ENGLAND is expected to announce that travellers returning from abroad will have to quarantine in hotels in a bid to stave off new COVID-19 variants.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will discuss the plan with ministers later today with a final decision to be made public by Wednesday latest.
The measure will mostly affect returning Brits and UK residents given that most foreign nationals from high-risk countries are already banned from entering.
Each of the UK’s nations can decide their own quarantine rules but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland tend to implement similar measures.
But the countries that will be affected are yet to be finalised.
According to the BBC, travellers will have to self-isolate in a hotel for 10 days if they are coming from South America and most of South Africa and Portugal.
But whether or not Spain or other countries will be added to the list is still being decided.
Home Secretary Priti Patel wants a more blanket approach, fearing that being too surgical could undermine the whole plan.
Former Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt backed Patel’s concerns, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the government ‘may need to go further’.
“We don’t know which countries these variants are arising in,” he said.
The plan has proven controversial after Government sources said those quarantining would have to pay for it themselves.
ITV news reported that UK arrivals would be billed £1,500 to quarantine for 10 days under security with all meals to be eaten in their rooms.
This is similar to the policy implemented by the New South Wales Government in Australia, costing around £1,700 per adult and £2,800 for a family of two adults and two children – although they are billed after the quarantine is completed.
Costs are also waived for those who can prove they are unable to pay and there are exceptions.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday that officials from around the UK had discussed a ‘four nations’ approach to the hotel quarantine plan while Northern Ireland is expected to comment later today.