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Confirmed: England Will Force Travellers from ‘Red List’ Countries into Mandatory Hotel Quarantine

Confirmed: England Will Force Travellers from ‘Red List’ Countries into Mandatory Hotel Quarantine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Wednesday that travellers from 22 ‘Red List’ countries will be forced into 10-days of hotel quarantine. The policy stops short of the measures that were being considered and that would have required travellers from anywhere in the world to complete a stay in hotel quarantine, similar to programmes established in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

The Red List countries include South Africa and Brazil where new variants of the COVID-19 virus have been discovered. The variants are highly transmissible and early studies show a reduction in vaccine efficacy against the South African variant.

Other countries on the Red List include: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Panama, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. The full list will be published later on Wednesday.

Home Secretary Priti Patel had been pushing for even tougher border controls but there were fears that available hotel rooms would be filled within days. On Tuesday, the chief executives of several UK-based airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic warned such a measure would lead to economic ruin and mass job losses.

Sean Doyle, chief executive of British Airways and his peer at Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss urged Boris Johnson to draw up a bespoke rescue package for the airline industry and a roadmap out of the current travel restrictions.

Spooked by the importation of mutant variants of the COVID-19 virus, the British government suspended its Travel Corridor scheme on January 18 requiring all new arrivals to self-isolate for 10 days no matter where in the world they come from. The quarantine period can be reduced by taking a test on day five of isolation.

Under current lockdown restrictions, travellers are only allowed to leave the country for ‘essential’ reasons such as business that can’t be conducted at home. Travellers coming to England must also provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Priti Patel has also announced plans to require airlines to interview passengers about their reason for travel to ensure it is essential. Travellers will need to sign a declaration stating why their travel is essential.

Hotel quarantine from Red List countries is set to cost around £1,000 per person but further details, including when the measure will be introduced is yet to be revealed. Only British residents will be allowed to travel from Red List countries, similar to travel restrictions imposed by the Biden administration.

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