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UK to Make International Travellers Take Two COVID-19 Tests During Mandatory Quarantine

UK to Make International Travellers Take Two COVID-19 Tests During Mandatory Quarantine

The United Kingdom has announced plans to make international travellers take at least two COVID-19 tests during their mandatory 10-day quarantine. Details were set by health secretary Matt Hancock in Parliament on Tuesday but the broad outline of the rules first started to be leaked to the media on Monday night.

All international arrivals will be required to take a test on day two and day eight of quarantine. The rules will apply to both travellers in mandatory hotel quarantine, as well as travellers who are allowed to self-isolate at home. Those who test positive will be required to self-isolate for a further 10-days.

The tests are in addition to mandatory pre-departure tests that travellers are required to take within 72-hours of departure. While the pre-departure tests must be paid for by travellers at a cost of up to £130 per person, a government minister suggested on Tuesday morning that the British government would cover the cost of post-arrival tests.

Environment secretary George Eustice told breakfast television shows that he expected the government to use rapid antigen tests capable of returning a result in as little as 15-minutes. The government recently secured a deal with a British manufacturer SureScreen for 20 million rapid tests.

Matt Hancock did not reveal whether travellers would be required to pay for the post-arrival tests and guidance was not immediately published.

Last month, the UK scrapped its travel corridor scheme allowing travellers from certain countries with a low-risk of COVID-19 to skip self-isolation altogether. All arrivals must now quarantine for 10-days but this can be cut short by taking a test on day five of isolation.

Spooked by emerging variants of the COVID-19 virus, Home Secretary Priti Patel set out plans last month to force arrivals from certain countries into hotel quarantine. After weeks of delay, the system is meant to go live on February 15 and so far 16 hotels with a combined 4,650 rooms have been secured.

Travellers from Brazil, South Africa and the UAE are amongst the countries that will be subjected to mandatory hotel quarantine at a cost of £1,750 per person. The opposition Labour Party has urged the government to go even further and force all arrivals into hotel quarantine in a similar way that Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong does.

Outlining tough new penalties, Matt Hancock said breaking hotel quarantine would land travellers with a fine of between £5,000 to £10,000. Failing to take a mandatory COVID-19 test could result in a fine of £1,000, while lying on a passenger locator form could be punishable with 10-years in prison.

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