Travellers remain unable to book a room at a quarantine hotel just three days before they become mandatory for arrivals from “red list” countries.
People attempting to access the booking website receive a message which states: “We’ll be back soon! Sorry for the inconvenience but we’re performing some maintenance at the moment.”
Difficulties with the website have been reported since it went live on Thursday afternoon.
“Why was the Home Secretary not all over this?’ James O’Brien reacted on Twitter to the hotel quarantine scheme “falling at the very first hurdle”.
A Twitter user wrote: “Two questions: Which of their mates got the contract for this? Is Dido Harding managing this as well?”
Home Secretary Priti Patel urged people to “persevere” with the website.
She told an LBC radio listener who is struggling to plan her return from the US: “I do understand there have been problems with the testing package website, which I think was launched yesterday.
“I’ve been told it was back up and running this morning so please persevere with this.
“This is a fresh website clearly.”
UK nationals or residents returning to England from 33 red list countries will be required to quarantine for 10 days in a Government-approved hotel from Monday.
This will cost £1,750 for a single adult.
People face being fined up to £4,000 if they arrive in England without making a booking.
England’s hotel quarantine rules allowing travellers to leave their rooms for fresh air are “very risky”, an Australian epidemiologist has warned.
Professor Michael Toole, from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Victoria, suggested England could learn from his country, where preventative measures initially focused on stopping the spread of coronavirus by large droplets but had to be strengthened.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the precautions – such as wearing surgical masks, keeping people in their room and using hand sanitiser – did not prevent airborne transmission.
Prof Toole said there have been Covid-19 cases in the city where an infected guest opened their room door and “with the positive pressure this kind of fog of virus went out into the corridor, travelled down and infected hotel staff”.
Asked for his views on people being allowed to leave their rooms in England’s quarantine hotels while accompanied by guards, he said: “We’ve learnt that that is a very risky procedure.”
The state of Victoria has entered a third lockdown after an outbreak of cases thought to be linked to a quarantine hotel.
Australia’s borders are closed but those who can travel, and who are not exempt from quarantine rules, have to stay in a hotel for 14 days.
UK nationals or residents returning to England from 33 “red list” countries will be required to spend 10 days in a Government-designated hotel from Monday.
However, the rules are more relaxed than those in Australia, where people are not allowed to leave their rooms.