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Travellers Still Can’t Book UK Quarantine Hotels After Website Crashes For More Than 24-Hours

Travellers Still Can’t Book UK Quarantine Hotels After Website Crashes For More Than 24-Hours

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Travellers flying to England from 33 so-called ‘Red List’ countries are still unable to book a room at a designated quarantine hotel after the dedicated booking site crashed within minutes of being launched on Thursday. The booking portal, run by corporate booking provider CTM North, remains unavailable more than 24-hours later and with less than three days before the new rules are set to come into force.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care which is running the new quarantine programme has attempted to reassure panicked travellers that rooms are still available from February 15 when the rules are due to kick in. “The website is undergoing maintenance to correct a minor technical issue,” a spokesperson explained while being unable to say when the booking portal would be back up and running.

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Travellers from Red List countries will be expected to pay £1,750 per person for a ‘quarantine hotel package’ which includes dedicated transport between the airport and hotel, a room for a full 10-days of quarantine, three meals per day and round the clock security.

Guests will be allowed to leave their rooms for exercise after they’ve obtained special permission from on-site security guards and staff will be expected to bring any items that guests have delivered to the hotel from outside.

Other travellers arriving in England from non ‘red list’ countries may also face fines of up to £10,000 because they are unable to book mandatory COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of their home self-isolation. The test package must also be booked through the same website that remains unavailable.

A government minister defended the more relaxed rules compared to similar quarantine programmes run in Hong Kong and Australia where travellers must remain confined in their rooms for the entire isolation period (up to 21 days in the case of Hong Kong).

England is pushing ahead with relaxed hotel quarantine regime despite the fact that the entire Australian state of Victoria has just entered a sharp five-day circuit breaker lockdown after a traveller in hotel quarantine infected staff members who were assigned to walk the corridors.

Health officials are alarmed that the highly transmissible UK variant of the COVID-19 virus which was passed from one traveller to the hotel employees may take hold unless tough draconian measures are taken straight away.

The hotel quarantine system in England was introduced to prevent the importation of highly infectious, vaccine-resistant variants of the novel Coronavirus from high-risk countries such as South Africa and Brazil. But despite Australia’s success, several recent outbreaks have been linked to the country’s network of ‘medi-hotels’ when employees were infected by quarantining guests.

An audit of Australia’s quarantine hotels is currently underway over fears that inadequate ventilation systems may be helping to spread the virus between quarantining guests and staff.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews has temporarily suspended all inbound international flights into the state while it gets the current outbreak under control. Andrews also wants the weekly cap on inbound international travellers reduced to below 1,000. In contrast, England has no plans to cap weekly arrivals from ‘red list’ countries but government ministers insist there is plenty of hotel space available.

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