• Heavy financial penalties and potential jail time for non-compliance
  • All passengers travelling to England to take mandated COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine
  • Those who have been to a ‘red list’ country required to purchase ‘quarantine package’ covering hotel and testing
  • 16 hotels contracted so far for an initial 4,600 rooms

Tough new enforcement measures – from fixed penalty notices to imprisonment – have been introduced, as the Health and Social Care Secretary set out details of the government’s new quarantine measures.

Under the changes announced, from 15 February all arrivals at English ports will be required to undertake 2 mandatory COVID-19 tests – on day 2 and day 8 of their 10-day quarantine.

The new measures build on those already in place, which include refusing entry to non-UK residents from ‘red list’ countries. All passengers, no matter which country they have travelled from, are already required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before departure and must self-isolate on arrival. A passenger locator form must also be completed with fines for those who fail to comply.

From Monday, anyone arriving who has been in a country on the UK’s travel ban list in the previous 10 days will be required to purchase a quarantine package. Bookings will be made through a dedicated online portal and will include:

  • assigned government transportation
  • food and drinks
  • accommodation in a government-approved facility
  • security
  • welfare
  • testing

The charge for a single adult will be less than £1,750.

To ensure compliance, fines will be issued and will range from £5,000 rising to £10,000 for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel. A £1,000 penalty will also be given to any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, followed by a £2,000 penalty to any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test. This will be accompanied by an automatic extension of the quarantine period to 14 days.

Passenger locator forms will now not only detail their travel journey but also their quarantine and testing package. Anyone attempting to conceal that they have travelled in a ‘red list’ country on their form could face a £10,000 fine or prosecution and up to 10 years in prison.

The Health and Social Care Secretary said:

Our fight against this virus has many fronts and, just as we’re attacking this virus through our vaccination programme, which is protecting more people every day, we’re strengthening our defences through these vital measures so we can protect the progress that we’ve worked so hard to accomplish.

The compliance and enforcement regime is end-to-end, and all passengers should expect to be checked at various points throughout their journey, such as:

  • by carriers at the time of departure
  • by airport staff throughout their journey
  • by Border Force officers on arrival
  • spot checks by police, where appropriate, for those quarantining at home

Government has been working closely with the aviation industry and the country’s major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham to designate arrival ports. These airports account for the vast majority of international arrivals into England and will allow for close monitoring. Anyone arriving at a non-designated port who has visited a ‘red list’ country will receive a fixed penalty notice and still be required to quarantine in a managed quarantine facility. Government has so far contracted 16 hotels with 4,600 rooms and more will be secured as needed.

There will be a security presence throughout, with personnel directing travellers on arrival, in transit and on arrival at the managed quarantine facilities. Security will also be present to ensure passengers remain at their facility and, where necessary, police will be called upon to provide additional support.

Any passengers travelling back to England from countries not on the travel ban list will be required to quarantine at home for the same period (10 days) and abide by the same stringent testing regime. In both cases, tests must be booked from a list of government-approved test providers. Test to Release will continue to be in operation – however, arrivals will still be required to purchase the 2-testing package.

Guidelines for travellers will be published on GOV.UK and the booking portal will go live on Thursday.

Background information

Summary of how the current rules for passengers are enforced:

  • firstly, passengers must show proof of a negative test in the 3 days before departure
  • they must also complete a passenger locator form in the 2 days before arriving in the UK
  • carriers must check both of these for every passenger before they board the plane
  • passengers are then checked again by frontline airport staff and Border Force upon arrival – passengers arriving without a completed form and negative test face a £500 fine and the airline faces a £2,000 fine
  • if they have been in a red-listed country in the past 10 days, they will be denied entry to the UK unless they have a residency right
  • all passengers must then self-isolate at the place they are staying for 10 days after they arrive – we have enhanced these spot checks to make sure people are self-isolating and they may be referred for police action including a fine of up to £10,000
  • we have also increased checks for those self-isolating and by police at ports and airports