Tough new enforcement measures – from fixed penalty notices to imprisonment – have been introduced, as the Health and Social Care Secretary set out details of the government’s new quarantine measures.
Under the changes announced, from 15 February all arrivals at English ports will be required to undertake two mandatory COVID-19 tests – on day two and day eight of their 10-day quarantine.
The new measures build on those already in place, which include refusing entry to non-UK residents from ‘red list’ countries. All passengers, no matter which country they have travelled from, are already required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before departure and must self-isolate on arrival. A passenger locator form must also be completed with fines for those who fail to comply.
From Monday, anyone arriving who has been in a country on the UK’s travel ban list in the previous ten days will be required to purchase a quarantine package. Bookings will be made through a dedicated online portal and will include:
- assigned government transportation
- food and drinks
- accommodation in a government-approved facility
The charge for a single adult will be less than £1,750.
To ensure compliance, fines will be issued and will range from £5,000 rising to £10,000 for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel. A £1,000 penalty will also be given to any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, followed by a £2,000 penalty to any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test. This will be accompanied by an automatic extension of the quarantine period to 14 days.
Passenger locator forms will now not only detail their travel journey but also their quarantine and testing package. Anyone attempting to conceal that they have travelled in a ‘red list’ country on their form could face a £10,000 fine or prosecution and up to 10 years in prison.
The Health and Social Care Secretary said:
The compliance and enforcement regime is end-to-end, and all passengers should expect to be checked at various points throughout their journey, such as:
- by carriers at the time of departure
- by airport staff throughout their journey
- by Border Force officers on arrival
- spot checks by police, where appropriate, for those quarantining at home
The Government say they have been working closely with the aviation industry and the country’s major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham to designate arrival ports. These airports account for the vast majority of international arrivals into England and will allow for close monitoring. Anyone arriving at a non-designated port who has visited a ‘red list’ country will receive a fixed penalty notice and still be required to quarantine in a managed quarantine facility. The Government has so far contracted 16 hotels with 4,600 rooms and they say more will be secured as needed.
There will be a security presence throughout, with personnel directing travellers on arrival, in transit and on arrival at the managed quarantine facilities. Security will also be present to ensure passengers remain at their facility and, where necessary, police will be called upon to provide additional support.
Any passengers travelling back to England from countries not on the travel ban list will be required to quarantine at home for the same period (ten days) and abide by the same stringent testing regime. In both cases, tests must be booked from a list of government-approved test providers. Test to Release will continue to be in operation – however, arrivals will still be required to purchase the 2-testing package.
Guidelines for travellers will be published on GOV.UK and the booking portal will go live on Thursday.