International travellers arriving in England will have to quarantine in a hotel in a move by Boris Johnson to combat the spread of Covid-19 variants.
The Financial Times and the Guardian reported ministers are set to give the go-ahead to a plan for arrivals to self-isolate in designated hotels at a meeting of the government’s Covid-O committee on Tuesday.
But it appears up for debate how strict the policy will be. Some reports suggested the system of hotel quarantine could initially be limited to British residents returning from countries including Portugal, South Africa and Brazil, where the more contagious forms of the coronavirus have been found. But some ministers are reportedly pushing for a blanket approach.
They also suggested the ten-day stays are expected to cost upwards of £1,000 for each traveller, and may take “weeks rather than days” to implement. It’s unclear whether a “test to release” policy – which would allow travellers to leave quarantine if they test negative after five days – will be introduced.
Whitehall sources suggested that ministers may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned that introducing tougher border rules would be “catastrophic” for the industry. No 10 declined to comment.
Direct flights to the UK from South Africa, Brazil and Portugal have been suspended, but British residents have been permitted to return through indirect routes and then self-isolate at home.
The Best Western hotel chain said it was waiting for the Government “green light” to provide “safe, cared for Covid isolation for travellers requiring hotel quarantine”.
Johnson said on Monday that the “idea of looking at hotels is certainly one thing we’re actively now working on”.
“We have to realise there is at least the theoretical risk of a new variant that is a vaccine-busting variant coming in, we’ve got to be able to keep that under control,” he added.
In other developments:
– The European Union has...