Arriving travellers put in quarantine hotels in England will be charged £1,750 for their stay, Matt Hancock – the health secretary – has announced.
Passengers face fines of up to £10,000 for failing to quarantine, and those who lie on their passenger locator forms face up to ten years in jail.
Hancock told MPs that 16 hotels have been contracted for the hotel quarantine programme which begins on Monday. UK nationals or residents returning from 33 “red list” countries will be required to spend 10 days in a Government-designated hotel.
Anyone who attempts to conceal that they have been in one of those destinations in the 10 days before arrival faces a prison sentence of up to ten years, Mr Hancock said.
He also confirmed the new “enhanced testing” regime for all international travellers, with two tests required during the quarantine process from Monday.
Hancock told the Commons: “People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk. Passenger carriers will have a duty in law to make sure that passengers have signed up for these new arrangements before they travel, and will be fined if they don’t, and we will be putting in place tough fines for people who don’t comply.
“This includes a £1,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, a £2,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test, as well as automatically extending their quarantine period to 14 days, and a £5,000 fixed penalty notice – rising to £10,000 – for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel.”
He added: “I make no apologies for the strength of these measures, because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation.”
Passengers required to stay in a quarantine hotel will need to reserve a room online in advance. Hancock said the booking system opens on Thursday. The £1,750 fee for an individual includes the hotel, transfer and testing.
These travellers will only be allowed to enter the UK through a “small number of ports that currently account for the vast majority of passenger arrivals”, Mr Hancock added.
Paul Charles, from travel consultancy The PC Agency, said he has seen a Government document indicating that hotels are only being offered £50 a night to participate, despite those on Bath Road near Heathrow Airport currently charging an average of £77 a night to members of the public.
He added: “It’s no wonder hotels are less than enthusiastic. Their costs will outstrip the income from Government.” He also warned that the UK economy will take “a massive hit from the lack of certainty over reopening”.