London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that the country will impose mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals returning from “red list” nations in an effort to preventing new coronavirus variants from spreading.
Travelers who return from “red list” countries will be placed in quarantine in government-designated accommodation such as hotels for 10 days, Xinhua news agency quoted Johnson as saying while addressing lawmakers on Wednesday during the Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.
It is understood that travellers will have to pay to isolate in a monitored hotel, with coronavirus testing carried out during their stay.
In a statement released later in the day, the government announced further action for outbound and inbound passengers to minimise travel across international borders and reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
For those wishing to travel out of the UK, the reason for travel will be checked.
Anyone who does not have a valid reason for travel will be directed to return home and may face a fine, according to the statement.
There will be an increased police presence at ports and airports, fining those in breach of the stay at home regulations.
The statement confirmed that those arriving from countries where Britain has imposed international travel bans and who cannot be refused entry will be required to isolate in hotels for 10 days without exception and more details will be provided in due course.
The UK has banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.
Regarding the decision, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “There are still too many people coming in and out of our country each day. The rules are clear — people should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave. Going on holiday is not a valid reason.
“As we have done throughout this global health emergency, we will continue to take all steps necessary to protect the public and help prevent the spread of the virus.”
The Prime Minister in his address also said that he and the government take “full responsibility” after the coronavirus-related deaths passed the 100,000 milestone on Tuesday.
“I mourn every death in this pandemic and we share the grief of all those who have been bereaved. I and the government take full responsibility for all the actions we have taken to fight this pandemic.”
Johnson said that the government will reflect on the decisions taken, but he did not think it is the right time now as Britain remains in the middle of the pandemic.
The government needs to focus on keeping the virus under control and continuing the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, he said.
More than 7.1 million people in Britain have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to latest official figures.
Asked about the government’s “legacy of poor decisions”, Johnson said that it followed scientific advice and did everything it could to minimise suffering.
There were “no easy solutions” but Britain could be proud of its efforts to distribute the vaccine, he said.
Calum Semple, who sits at the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told the BBC that he would not surprised to see more deaths before the pandemic is brought under control.
“The deaths on the way up are likely to be mirrored by the number of deaths on the way down in this wave.”
Talking about the high mortality, he said that the country had experienced some “bad luck” with the emergence of a new, more transmissible variant, while the country had also suffered from “decades of underinvestment” in the National Health Service (NHS).
The UK is the first European nation and the fifth country in the world to pass the grim landmark of 100,000 deaths, following the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.
As of Thursday morning, the country’s coronavirus caseload and death toll stood at 3,725,637 and 102,085, respectively.
England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.