Passengers arriving in Britain from countries not on the Covid hotspot list will have to take two tests during their isolation period, it emerged last night.
In another significant toughening of border policy, travellers from safer countries will be told they must take the PCR tests during the standard ten-day home quarantine period.
The mandatory testing regime will be introduced on February 15 alongside hotel quarantine for travellers from 33 countries on the ‘red list’.
It came as Britain’s hotel quarantine plan descended into chaos yesterday. Key planks of the policy were yet to be thrashed out and industry bosses said ministers had left them little time
‘When you arrive into the UK you will have to take two tests during your ten-day isolation,’ a Government source explained. ‘It will be a further level of protection.’
The plan will primarily affect Britons returning home from abroad. It is expected they will be posted the standard PCR kits to test themselves, but could also be given details of their nearest Covid testing centre after filling in a passenger locator form.
Details of the plan will be revealed next week.
It came as Britain’s hotel quarantine plan descended into chaos yesterday. Key planks of the policy were yet to be thrashed out and industry bosses said ministers had left them little time.
There were still no details last night on how border arrangements will be adjusted to identify those subject to quarantine and separate them from those that are not.
And a system so travellers can book a room ahead of arrival was yet to be launched. The details are expected to be released next week, less than seven days before the scheme kicks in on February 15. Another key issue is locating hotels with ventilation systems that will not spread the virus, the Mail understands.
Hotels which may take part in the scheme must have rooms that can be properly ventilated and air conditioning systems that do not re-circulate air, it is understood
Officials say they must avoid a scenario like that seen on cruise ships at the start of the pandemic, when Covid swept through the confined decks of holiday liners.
Hotels which may take part in the scheme must have rooms that can be properly ventilated and air conditioning systems that do not re-circulate air, it is understood.
Part of the delay to starting the hotel quarantine measures is due to identifying buildings which fit those requirements, sources said.
Hotels had until 5pm yesterday to bid to take part in the scheme, giving them about 24 hours after it was announced on Thursday evening. Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality, said many hoteliers had ruled themselves out because it won’t be financially viable, with room charges capped at £80 plus VAT a night.
Labour has savaged the Government over delays to the measures, noting they will not come in until nearly two months after the South African variant was found in the UK
According to tender documents, hotels will have to provide three meals a day for guests for 11 nights. Travellers will be tested twice, on the second and eighth day of their stay. Government-contracted security guards will be stationed on each floor and by entrances and exits, with police on standby if passengers try to abscond from quarantine.
Rooms will need a 72-hour deep clean after each stay.
Last night Travelodge ruled itself out of the running, but Accor – which owns the Ibis, Novotel and Mercure brands – suggested it may take part, along with the St Giles Hotel Group and Thistle Hotels.
It was unclear last night how close the health department was to reaching its target of block-booking 28,000 rooms.
Yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested more countries could be added to the ‘red list’. He said: ‘We’ll be vigilant in making sure the hotel quarantine that we’re introducing applies to the right countries where we see these new variants.’
Labour has savaged the Government over delays to the measures, noting they will not come in until nearly two months after the South African variant was found in the UK.
n Hotel quarantine will not work unless travellers from ‘low-risk’ countries are also made to isolate, scientists warned the Government last month. Minutes from a Sage meeting on January 20, published yesterday, revealed that new variants are likely to arrive from countries not included on the travel ban list.
The document said: ‘No single intervention other than a complete pre-emptive closure of borders or the mandatory quarantine of all visitors can fully prevent the importation of new variants or cases.’