People Travelling During Pandemic Face 10 Years In Prison And £10,000 Fine If They Break New Rules
Travellers who do not quarantine in a government sanctioned-hotel when returning from a ‘red-list’ country face a fine of up to £10,000 and a prison sentence.
In an announcement earlier today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said those arriving in the UK from one of the 33 high-risk countries will be charged £1,750 for their hotel stay.
Those who fail to comply with the guidelines face hefty fines, while those who lie on their passenger locator forms could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
So far, a total of 16 hotels have been contracted for the programme which is due to begin on Monday, February 15.
Also on this day, an ‘enhanced testing’ system for all international travellers will be rolled out. Each traveller will be required to take two coronavirus tests during their quarantine period.
Explaining the rationale behind the hefty fines, Hancock said, ‘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,’ he told MPs today.
‘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 explained.
Those travelling into the UK from one of the red-list countries will need to book their stay in an approved hotel in advance. The booking system for this will open on Thursday, February 11.
The countries are mainly located in South America and Southern Africa. They include Argentina, Colombia, South Africa, UAE and Zambia.
The higher travel restrictions were announced in a bid to reduce the introduction and transmission of new variants of the virus, which are thought to be more infectious than the original coronavirus strain.
So far, the government has remained tight-lipped about a possible end to the national lockdown.
Speaking in the Commons today, Hancock said it was a matter of uncertainty and that the government would need to know the vaccines were effective against all variants of the virus before easing of current restrictions can be considered.
‘If we get good news on the vaccination impact on hospitalisations and deaths from people who have … new mutations, then we will be in a better place,’ he said.
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