The UK is to launch mandatory hotel quarantines for UK and Irish residents returning from “red list” states where transmission rates of Covid-19 are high.

“In short, this means that any returning residents from these countries will have to quarantine in an assigned hotel room for 10 days from the time of arrival,” health secretary Matt Hancock has told parliament.

Arrivals sign

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UK or Irish residents travelling from the 32 travel red-list countries are currently required to self-isolate at home, with non-resident travellers being banned from entry altogether.

Returning residents will be required to book through an online platform and pay for a quarantine package costing £1,750 ($2,410) per person, which includes the hotel, transport and testing.

The booking system will be online from 11 February, when the government will publish further details.

“Passengers will only be allowed to enter the UK through a small number of ports that currently account for the vast majority of passenger arrivals. When they arrive they will be escorted to a designated hotel which will be closed to guests that aren’t quarantining for 10 days, or for longer if they test positive for Covid-19,” says Hancock.

The UK has contracted 16 hotels for an initial 4,600 rooms “and we will secure more as they are needed”, he adds.

All travellers entering the country will be required to take Covid-19 tests on days two and eight of their return to the country, regardless of whether they are isolating at home or in a hotel.

Passengers arriving in the UK are already required to isolate on their return, as well as to have a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72h before travelling.

Travellers that do not comply with the new rules face fines of £10,000 and possible jail sentences.

The use of hotels to enforce quarantine on returning travellers has worked successfully in territories such as Singapore, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.