As of 15 February, UK residents and Irish nationals entering the UK from a list of 33 “red-listed” countries will need to quarantine in a hotel for 11 nights — at their own cost.
Which countries require a mandatory hotel quarantine?
The red-listed countries are:
- Cape Verde
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo
- French Guiana
- Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Which airports can UK residents enter the country in?
If you are flying from one of the red-listed countries, you can only enter the country from one of the following airports:
- London City
- Farnborough Airfield
The pricing for the hotel stay is set by the government in accordance with participating hotels. The cost for adults is £1,750. This covers tests, food, accommodation and transport.
That’s the price if you are travelling alone.
Children aged five to 12 cost an additional £325. Any other person over the age of 12 who is travelling with you will cost £650.
If you feel this all sounds a little 1984-esque, you are not alone.
Failure to comply with this quarantine rule can lead to a fine of up to £10,000. You could also be fined up to £10,000 if you misinform the authorities about which destinations you have travelled to in the last ten days before arriving back in the UK.
Which hotels are included?
So far, sixteen hotels are included in the program with plans to add additional hotels near the airports listed above.
What should I do before I travel?
Before travelling to the UK, you will need to take a COVID-19 test 3 days before your flight, and test negative for COVID-19.
You also need to book your stay in one of the quarantine hotels via the CTM portal. The cost of this booking will include additional COVID Tests on day 2 and on day 8 of your hotel quarantine.
The government will bear the costs of any additional food and drink consumed by children between the ages of three and five. (Hotels often do not charge for children under three years of age.)
If the package puts you under a tremendous financial strain, there is an option to defer payment. But the government does expect you to foot the bill, even regardless of how many assurances you give them that you would honour your stay at home instead.
You have absolutely no choice in the matter — you and everyone else entering the country form one of the red-listed countries must quarantine in one of the sanctioned hotels.
What happens after arriving at one of the designated airports?
You will be escorted to your managed hotel. You will have to follow social distancing rules and wear a face mask at all times.
And if I’ve been vaccinated?
If you are vaccinated, you will be treated in exactly the same way as anyone else entering the country. You will obtain absolutely zero privileges from being vaccinated — you will not be allowed to leave your room, will have to wear a face mask, you will have to social distance, and so on, just like everybody else.
What is it like to stay at a quarantine hotel?
Well, it can be pretty grim. To quote a Telegraph journalist who booked a stay in a double room (which ended up being unbelievably tiny), she said, “I’m fairly sure, I personally would go mad,” referring to not being able to leave that room.
The room had no windows at eye-level. The only windows were set so high up that it’s impossible to get a look outside.
There are many prisons in the world that look better than that hotel.
To be fair, not all hotels have such dismal accommodations as can be witnessed by the Telegraph reporters filming directly into recently-arrived passengers’ private hotel rooms like paparazzi.
What would you prefer — a room with no windows, or being filmed in your pyjamas for ten days and eleven nights?
If you test positive for COVID-19 on your Day 2 test, then you will need to quarantine until day 12. If you test positive on day 8 then you must quarantine until day 18.
This will set you back an additional £152 a day.
Regardless of where you’re travelling from, you will need to take a COVID-19 test three days before your flight. Failure to do so will result in a £1,000 fine. The same fine applies if you fail to take the second test after arrival. A £2,000 fine will be levied to anyone failing to take the test on Day 8.