Anyone arriving in the U.K. from a list of banned countries will be ordered to quarantine in a secure hotel from February 15, ministers confirmed.
People returning to Britain from anywhere in the world must already self-isolate for 10 days after the country tightened its rules last month, but have so far been able to do so at any location specified to authorities, such as a family home.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been under mounting political pressure to flesh out a promised plan for stricter quarantine of those arriving from a list of banned countries who cannot be turned away at the border.
The U.K. government said Thursday night it had begun asking hotels near ports and airports to set out how they will run as government-approved “Managed Quarantine Facilities” from February 15 in exchange for state contracts.
Those on the list who arrive in the U.K. “will be required to quarantine in a government approved facility for a period of 10 days,” the department said.
A new Cabinet committee led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, with input from former Vice Chief of Defense Staff Gordon Messenger, will oversee the policy, while the government has held talks with Australia and New Zealand about their own quarantine measures.
But the opposition Labour Party said it was “beyond comprehension” that the measures will not start until February 15, branding them “too little, too late” as the U.K. battles to contain a new strain of the virus that originated in South Africa.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds added in a statement: “We are in a race against time to protect our borders against new COVID strains. Yet hotel quarantine will come in to force more than 50 days after the South African strain was discovered.”
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