£1,200 extra bill if quarantine hotel guests test positive
By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
Travellers in quarantine hotels face an additional £1,200 bill if they test positive for coronavirus, the Government has revealed.
This is on top of the £1,750 fee for entering the programme and will apply to guests required to extend their stay beyond the initial 11 nights.
Information about the £152 daily cost of longer stays was only published on the Government’s website on Monday, after some guests had already checked in.
From 4am on Monday, travellers arriving in England must quarantine in a hotel if they have been in a country at high risk of coronavirus variants in the previous 10 days.
Scotland is extending the requirement to cover arrivals from any country unless they have travelled from the Common Travel Area (CTA), which includes the UK and Ireland.
Guests are allowed to leave after 11 nights if they receive negative results from tests taken on day two and day eight of their isolation.
A positive result from the first test will extend a traveller’s stay by two nights at a cost of £304.
If the second test returns a positive reading, the guest must remain in their room for an additional eight nights and pay £1,216.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked at Monday’s Downing Street press conference what will happen if a traveller cannot afford the extra fee.
He replied: “It is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays anyway.
“We would expect people who are coming in from one of these red list countries to be able to cover their costs.”
There are 33 countries on the Government’s “red list”, which includes Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, South America and southern Africa.
UK and Irish nationals and UK residents returning to England who have been in a country on the list in the previous 10 days must enter a quarantine hotel, even if they have travelled via the CTA.
Scotland’s exemption for people travelling from the CTA led to a father and daughter who entered the programme on Monday being allowed to leave after just one day and complete their isolation at home.
Chun Wong told BBC Scotland he and his daughter flew into the country from the United States via Dublin, and went straight to a hotel at Edinburgh Airport.
Mr Wong told the broadcaster: “I received a call from reception saying a gentleman from the airport would like to talk to me.
“He said that since I landed in Dublin first and then got a connecting flight to here, I was not required to quarantine in a hotel.
“I still have to quarantine and do the self-testing kit on the second and eighth day, but they said it was an error on their part.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed concern about gaps in the current system for international arrivals, telling a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Monday: “It would be better if we had that four nations approach, or at least a three nations approach where the border of the island that Scotland, England and Wales share, had the same provisions in place.”
Meanwhile, a trade union representing Border Force staff said it is a “disgrace” that its members reportedly only received guidelines on the execution of the new rules a few hours before they came into force.
A spokesman for the PCS union said: “It’s vital that Border Force are equipped to deal with helping the public stay Covid safe. However, many feel underprepared and undervalued by a department that is not doing its job.”
Border Force sources told The Guardian that immigration control staff received a lengthy email with five attachments, detailing official guidance, at 9.25pm on Sunday.
The new policy went live at 4am the following day.
A Government spokesman said: “Border Force operational guidance on the measures has been issued and is regularly updated to ensure staff are supported on how to apply the new guidance.”