The U.K. will require travelers from coronavirus hot spots to quarantine starting Feb. 15, the government said, adding flesh to a policy first announced last month.
Arrivals from countries on the U.K.’s travel ban list will be required to isolate for 10 days in government-approved accommodation, the Department for Health and Social Care said Thursday in a statement. The government said it’s seeking bids from hotels near airports and ports to support the program.
The announcement comes after days of confusion over how soon the government would implement a policy it announced last month as a key tool to stop mutations of the coronavirus that may be more resistant to vaccines from entering the country.
“In the face of new variants, it is important that the government continues to take the necessary steps to protect people and save lives,” the government said in the statement. “With increased police presence at airports and more physical checks at addresses to make sure people are self-isolating, we are taking decisive action.”
At present, 30 countries including the whole of South America, a swath of southern Africa and Portugal are on the travel ban list after new variants that emerged in Brazil and South Africa in recent weeks heightened concerns.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping to use the country’s so-far successful vaccination program as a springboard to reopen the country from its third lockdown, which started last month. He has said schools will open from March 8 at the earliest, and has promised to publish a plan for easing the restrictions in the week of Feb. 22. Keeping out vaccine-resistant strains of Covid-19 is crucial to that effort.
The Times late Thursday reported that ministers are also considering a certification system for Britons, to allow them to travel to countries that may require proof of inoculation upon entry./bloomberg