BORIS Johnson has confirmed that everyone arriving in Britain from 22 high-risk countries across the globe will be forced into hotel quarantine.
Brits leaving the UK will also be quizzed at the border to stop them going on holiday and bringing back new variants of coronavirus, the PM said today.
It means not all travellers will be forced to cough up as much as £1,500 for hotel quarantine.
The PM unveil the tough new border policy this afternoon after criticism the current measures don’t go far enough.
Mr Johnson said this afternoon: “A new variant anywhere poses a potential threat everywhere.
“And we will take additional steps to strengthen our borders to stop those strains from entering the UK.”
Addressing MPs today the PM said: “I want to make clear that under the stay home regulations, it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes.
“We will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel.”
Brits returning to the UK from 22 “red list countries” will face strict isolation rules, with passengers forced to fork out around £1,500 for a ten-day stay in a hotel.
It means travellers returning from the likes of South Africa, Brazil, and Portugal will have to use the facilities.
The PM said: “We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants, including South Africa, Portugal, and South American nations.
“In order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in government provided accommodation, such as hotels for 10 days without exception.
“They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine.
“The Department of Health and Social care is working to establish these facilities as quickly as possible.”
But holiday hotspots France, Spain and Greece have been handed exemption – but tit’s understood the quarantine measures would be kept under review – which could see the strict rules slapped in place at any point in the future.
It was reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel had pushed for a total closure of the UK’s borders, as Labour is demanding, but that was rejected by the PM.
Ms Patel is also set to make it harder for Brits to leave the UK, with extra checks at airports.
Travellers will have to pick up the tab themselves. The expected average cost of £600 each, but it could rise to as high as £1,500.
But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has slammed the proposals for “not going far enough”.
Ms Sturgeon said there should be “supervised quarantine” across the UK and warned the rules could be even tougher in Scotland.
Brits returning from red zones people are expected to be able to leave their quarantine three days early if they provide a negative test.
Destinations hit include parts of South America around Brazil, countries around South Africa, plus Portugal and Cape Verde – and maybe even celebrity haunt Dubai.
Communities secretary Rob Jenrick said the Government was taking action to ensure there is “less flow” of people into the country.
But he admitted it is impossible to “hermetically seal” Britain off from the rest of the world and completely rule out the introduction of new variants.
He said: “The reason for responding now at the borders is primarily because of the variants we’re seeing in South Africa and Brazil.
“Also because of the good news on the vaccine, that we are now becoming one of a small number of countries in the world in the privileged position to be vaccinating our population faster than others.”
What guests should expect
Measures that may be introduced
- Could cost up to £1,500 per person
- Police escort to hotel
- No visitors
- Three meals a day delivered to their door
- Private security supervising rooms
- CCTV watching those isolating
- Designated outside time
He added: “We’re not a country which you can hermetically seal, we may be an island but we rely on imports and exports, freight and hauliers crossing the border every day so there will always be the ability for new variants to enter the country.
“We will need to continue having the flow of goods across the border, we can’t cut ourselves off from the rest of the world but people should not be travelling to go on holiday, they shouldn’t be travelling on business travel unless it is of the absolutely most essential nature.
“We’re also capable of creating our own variants in this country so you can’t shield yourself entirely from these situations but we have had strict measures at the border and we’re going to have even stricter measures very soon.”
He said: “The vast, vast majority of the country should not be making trips overseas. I think people understand that but if the rules need to be clarified, confirmed and stepped up then we will be doing that.”
Mr Jenrick also defended the Government’s decision not to shut down Britain’s borders earlier, saying the quarantine requirements that have been in place since last June are already robust,
He said while locking out international travel early worked for some places like New Zealand, others like the US that pursued strict frontier policies didn’t have “more positive outcomes” than the UK.
But Labour this morning insisted even the latest measures don’t go far enough, and called for the hotel quarantine scheme to be extended to travellers from everywhere.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth had a swipe at Brexit saying it was “ironic” the Government wasn’t willing to impose stricter quarantine controls, given pledges on “taking back control at our borders”.
Asked about the plan to restrict the new curbs to certain countries, he said: “I think that’s probably a mistake.
“I would urge the Government to look at a comprehensive policy, not just the hotspots, because remember, there will be areas or countries across the world where there are mutations which haven’t been identified yet because they don’t have the same level of scientific ability.”
“I would say we need wider controls across all coming into the country.”
Surinder Arora, boss of the Arora Group, questioned why the Government had been “a little bit slow” to bring in tougher border checks and said hotels have been “standing by for a long, long time”.
He told LBC: “Better late than never. We are well prepared at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted that we can be following the Government instructions and trying to keep everyone safe and sound.”
Mr Arora said guests would be provided with room service throughout their stay and there would be checks “to make sure nobody leaves their room” before their self-isolation period is up.