From today (Monday 15 February), if you have been in a high risk destination on the UK’s ‘red list’ – comprised of 33 hotspots with COVID variants in circulation – you will have to enter England through a designated port and have pre-booked a quarantine package to stay at one of the government’s managed quarantine facilities.
Those arriving from today onwards that have not visited a red list country must still quarantine for 10 days at home and complete 2 mandatory COVID-19 tests on the second and eighth day after arriving.
The government has tough measures already in place requiring all travellers into the UK, from any location, to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before departure and non-UK residents from the 33 red list countries are already banned from entering Britain.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:
As this deadly virus evolves, so must our defences. We have already taken tough action to limit the spread, protect people and save lives.
With the emergence of new variants, we must go further. The rules coming into force today will bolster the quarantine system and provide another layer of security against new variants at the border.
These new measures are important to protect our vaccination programme, which has now seen 15 million people vaccinated, we all work towards restoring normal life.
The new measures that have come in to force today will further strengthen the UK’s borders, limit the spread of new COVID-19 variants and potentially save lives.
The tougher quarantine restrictions also carry heavier fines and penalties with potential prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Enforcement of new regulations
The government has also put in place new regulations equipping Border Force and police staff with the powers needed to ensure people arriving in England conform to the new rules.
Border Force have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to individuals suspected of lying on their passenger locator form and where necessary detain them for up to 3 hours.
As part of the regulations, a requirement for quarantining individuals to self-isolate in their room is set out in law. There will be also be a visible security presence at the managed quarantine facilities to ensure that people are obeying these rules.
The government has struck deals with 16 hotels so far, providing 4,963 rooms for the new quarantine system, with a further 58,000 rooms currently on standby.
All hotel staff will be fully trained in COVID-secure practices, and all contractors have been instructed to ensure their facilities and services are provided in a COVID-secure way. This includes plastic shields and PPE where necessary.