UK Confirms a 10-day Hotel Quarantine for Arrivals from Red-listed Countries

UK Confirms a 10-day Hotel Quarantine for Arrivals from Red-listed Countries

People arriving in the U.K. from red-listed countries will be required to complete a 10-day mandatory supervised quarantine at a health approved hotel, informed Prime Minister Boris Johnson today. 

The new entry restriction will apply to those travelers returning from, for now, 30 countries where international travel bans have already been imposed. Those including most South America, South Africa and some European nations.  

This rather strict and economy-damaging policy follows an unstoppable surge in coronavirus cases not even seen in the so-called worst months of the pandemic last year.

As stated by Johnson, “in order to reduce the risk posed by U.K. nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in Government provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception.”

But that is not all. In view of the number of people coming in and out of the country, outbound travelers of the U.K will need to demonstrate valid reasons for traveling. Holidays is not among them.

This additional measure aims to “reduce passenger flow so that only a small number of people for whom it is absolutely essential to travel are doing so.” Said Home Secretary Priti Patel at the House of Commons this afternoon.

Pandemic considerations aside, relevant members from the tourism sector have already voiced their concerns about the economic impact of the measure. 

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy, the PC Agency and former Virgin Atlantic and Eurostar Communications has said that such a policy may potentially disrupt confidence to book which would lead to a collapse in revenues for airlines and the rest of the tourism industry. 

Travelers at London’s Heathrow Airport
Travelers at London’s Heathrow Airport – (Associated Press)

“Boris Johnson needs to give a timeline for when they will be removed and be upfront on the economic impact on the aviation and travel sector.”

His claims are well justified on data. For instance, the cost of 14 days in a quarantine hotel for only 1 person is £1,692 in Australia, £1,630 in New Zealand and £642 in Thailand. All countries applying the mandatory quarantine at a hotel. 

Although the exact protocols for these quarantine hotels have not been officially announced, some can be expected to mirror those implemented in countries like Australia.

So far, Boris Johnson has explained how travelers will be picked up at the airport and “transported directly into quarantine”.

In Australia, authorities select and condition the hotels in advance and decide which building every traveler goes to on the day of their arrival. 

They also provide food and other necessities for the entirety of the quarantine period, which goes from 14 days for people with negative test results, to 24 for those without them.

Lodging, testing and food are all paid by the traveler so it can get pricey, especially for those whose test results come back positive.

But preparing a set of protocols is just the easy part. Training a workforce spread throughout the country to follow them properly is where it gets tricky.

Hotel employees seem to be the weak link in the implementation of this measure elsewhere but they are not the only threat. 

Authorities need to consider the cost of setting up hotels and transportation so they are safe for employees, as well as the logistical effort of tracing thousands of people and their specific circumstances and needs.