Passengers arriving from Spain and the US could soon be added to the UK’s ‘red list’ of countries as officials consider the risk of new variants from the two countries.
Officials at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will decide this week if those arriving from the two countries should isolate for ten days in one of the 16 quarantine hotels approved by the Government in an effort to stop the mutant variants from spreading.
The Cabinet Covid Operations Committee will make their decision using evidence from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).
It comes after analysis carried out by the World Health Organisation found dozens of countries where the highly-infectious South African and Brazilian variants had been found were not on the Government’s high-risk list.
They included Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and the United States.
Spain and the US could be added to the UK’s ‘red list’ of countries as officials at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) consider the safety risks. Pictured: Passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport
Passengers travelling from one of the countries on the ‘red list’ are escorted out of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport
Both Spain and the US have seen new mutations of the coronavirus transmitted locally and are close to South America and Portugal – which are both on the Government’s ‘red list’.
A Government source told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The US and Spain are on the list so it means some of the bigger markets will be considered by officials as part of the discussions before being put to ministers.
‘It will be based on evidence from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).’
It comes after airports were told this week that the list of high-risk countries would ‘get longer before it got shorter’, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Yesterday passengers shut in hotel quarantine after arriving from the UK began to reach desperate levels, posting notes at their windows begging to leave their accommodation.
All arrivals in England from 33 banned countries must book government-approved accommodation at an initial cost of £1,750 under a scheme that came into force on Monday.
But the strain of being stuck inside seemed to be taking its toll on some of the enforced hotel residents.
One held aloft a handwritten note at his window, bemoaning: ‘I am stressed here, no mobile phone, no access to my bank details to sort bills, my Covid-10 results. Why can’t quarantine at home?’
Another woman held up her boxed up meal at the glass, with a thoroughly disgusted look on her face.
The hotel quarantine initiative is intended to stop dangerous Covid variants being imported into the UK and there are no exemptions for illness of people who have suffered bereavement.
Upon arrival, travellers must show Border Force evidence of a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within three days of leaving the previous country.
Quarantining guests are then tested on days two and eight using PCR tests self-administered in their own rooms.
They can leave after they have received a negative result and quarantined for 10 days.
Meanwhile, guests who test positive on the second occasion will have to pay £1,200 to extend their stay for an extra eight nights at £152 per day.
Guests received their tests for the first time today, including Brazilian couple Wagner and Elaine Araujo, who are staying at the Radisson Blue near Heathrow. Today marked 48 hours since they arrived in the hotel.
In other developments:
- Dominic Raab clashed with Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway as she grilled the Foreign Secretary on the quarantine policy;
- A British man undergoing treatment for stage four cancer said he was trapped abroad because it would be unsafe for him to quarantine;
- MPs vented their fury over Boris Johnson’s reported plan for daily cases to drop below 1,000 and wait until July before ending lockdown;
- Mr Raab said increased rapid lateral flow testing meant that ‘when you do have upticks of the virus, we can come down on it like a tonne of bricks’.
- The Government announced the world’s first coronavirus human challenge study will start in the UK next month as scientists try to determine the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection.
A stressed passenger in the Radisson Blue quarantine hotel spelled out his frustrations at the new enforced scheme
This lady appeared appalled by boxed up food she had delivered to the room that will be her home for the next ten days
One new arrival is dropped off outside the hotel ahead of her quarantine stay after she jetted into the UK from a red list place
She appeared to be a little apprehensive as she finally made her way into the hotel after collecting her thoughts outside today
NHS Test and Trace staff walk into the Holiday Inn hotel near Heathrow Airport today as passengers complete a 10 day period of self-isolation
All arrivals in England from 33 banned countries must book Government-approved accommodation at an initial cost of £1,750 after the scheme came into force on Monday. Pictured is a cleaner inside the Radisson Blu near Heathrow today
Today Brazilian couple Wagner and Elaine Araujo – who are staying at the Radisson – today took photos of themselves as they received their PCR tests. They have to do the swabs themselves
What are the rules for entering Britain?
- You cannot enter the UK if you’ve been in or through a country on the banned travel list (known as the ‘red list’) in the last 10 days, unless you’re British, Irish or you have the right to live in the UK
- You must either quarantine where you’re staying or in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days
- What you need to do depends on where you travel in the 10 days before you arrive – if you travel in or through a country on the banned travel list within 10 days, you must stay managed quarantine hotel; if not, you can quarantine at home
- You need to provide your journey and contact details in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You must do this by completing the online passenger locator form
- You’ll need to show proof that you’ve completed the form when you arrive at the UK border as well as proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken three days before departure
- You could be fined £500 when you arrive at the border if you cannot provide proof that you have had a negative coronavirus test
- You do not need a test if you’re travelling within the UK, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey; from Ireland; from Ascension, Falkland Islands or St Helena; and children under 11 do not need a test
- After arriving at a quarantine hotel you will be tested on days two and eight of your stay using a PCR test self-administered in your room
- In Scotland, arrivals from all international destinations have to quarantine, even if they are not on the red list.
Mr Araujo, 43, told MailOnline they would have to pay £2,400 provided they both tested negative.
‘We’re waiting to hear when we’ll be tested are confident that we’ll be negative because we had to prove we were negative before leaving Brazil,’ he said.
‘Like many guests our big concern is how we will pay for this quarantine.
‘It’s a lot of money and we feel we’ve been unfairly treated because we were initially booked to return before the quarantine hotel scheme started but our return flights to the UK kept on getting cancelled.’
He added: ‘Fortunately you don’t have to pay the money up front but when we leave, we’ll have to find it from somewhere. It’s going to be a struggle paying this bill.’
Today Dominic Raab clashed with Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway as she grilled the Foreign Secretary on the policy.
The row was sparked when Ms Garraway asked Mr Raab to ‘clarify’ his response to her questions about a series of bungles over the scheme, including reports that Border Guards had only received the full enforcement guidance three hours before it started.
The politician snapped back ‘Will you let me answer?’ before saying that people are fed up with ‘the media’ not allowing politicians to give ‘honest answers’.
Meanwhile, concerns were today raised about the impact of the programme on people with cancer after a British man said it had left him stuck abroad.
Michael Thomas, 68, is in Madeira with his wife and 14-year-old daughter after flying out for a holiday in December.
He need a special diet, access to medicine and support, and also fears he could catch Covid from other guests or a member of staff, which he described as a ‘death sentence’.
‘I couldn’t do the hotel. I think I’d leave on a stretcher,’ he told the Guardian.
Guests can ask for medical attention and can leave the hotel for treatment but Mr Thomas’ GP has told him the stay would be too dangerous.
There are no medical exemptions to the scheme.
It comes as an eight-year-old girl and her father were reunited with the child’s mother after being wrongly quarantined under Scotland’s new hotel isolation rules.
Chun Wong and his daughter Kiernan had spent just a day in quarantine when they were told they could go free.
Afterwards, Kiernan was seen embracing her mother after immigration delays had kept them apart for 16 months.
An eight-year-old girl and her father were reunited with the child’s mother after being wrongly quarantined under Scotland’s new hotel isolation rules yesterday. Chun Wong and his daughter Kiernan had spent just a day in quarantine when they were told they could go free. Afterwards, Kiernan was seen embracing her mother (pictured)
A passenger arrives with officials at a Holiday Inn hotel near Heathrow Airport today for the start of 10 days in self-isolation
A passenger arrives at a Holiday Inn hotel today near Heathrow Airport (left) while a staff member unloads baggage from the coach
33 ‘high-risk’ nations from which arriving travellers will have to quarantine in hotels
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Countries with the highest cases of the South African and Brazilian variant, which may be next on the list
Austria and Belgium
Since the start of the week, all passengers arriving in Scotland on international flights must enter ‘managed isolation’.
But this does not apply to those coming from within the Common Travel Area, including the UK and Ireland, meaning the Wongs could go free.
Mrs Wong told the BBC: ‘I have never had that level of anxiety on my life. My legs were shaking so much and when she came out of the hotel she was scared to run to me. It was lovely and I didn’t want to let her go.’
And Mr Wong added: ‘I just told her to run to mummy. What a reunion to remember.’
Security measures for hotel guests in England have caused controversy, with some claiming they can leave their rooms to smoke ‘whenever they want’ while staff have been seen not wearing masks properly.
Businessman Wayne Kelly, who is quarantining for ten days at the Radisson Blu hotel at Heathrow, told how he was escorted from his room outside for a cigarette by security guards – some of whom were wearing masks beneath their nose.
Mr Kelly, 37, a property developer – who flew back to the UK from Dubai on Monday – said: ‘I can have regular cigarette breaks when I want them.
‘I just phone down and they send a bloke up to accompany me.
‘When you get to the ground floor, there are guys in yellow flack jackets sitting and standing around.
‘They are nice guys but some of them haven’t got their face masks on properly.
‘It is ironic really because I suppose the whole point of me being inside here it to protect everyone else.
‘Whenever I leave my room I have my Gucci facemask pulled up properly and it would be great if they played their part and put their masks on properly too.
‘That is meant to be the rules for everyone.
‘But they are friendly and there are no heavy duty restrictions on me.
‘I am made to sign the book when I leave my room and go out to the smoking area and I have to sign it when I come back in.
‘But if I wanted to, I could just walk right out of this hotel.’
Security guards patrolling outside the Radisson and neighbouring Novotel confirmed that they have been told to allow guests to go outside for a smoke but warned that they must not be left alone.
One said that they had not been told of any limits to the number of times a guest can go outside for a smoke.
‘I don’t know if it’s an official policy, because strictly speaking guests are not allowed to leave their rooms.
‘But we’ve been told that if somebody does need to go out for a smoke, then we have to accompany them to make sure that they do not run off or meet anybody,’ he told MailOnline.
But other staff members at both the Novotel and the Holiday Inn said smoking was not allowed and quarantining guests need to stay in their rooms for the duration of their stay.
Under the rules of Australia’s quarantine scheme, smoking is not permitted in New South Wales and Western Australia.
Boris confirms pubs WILL be last to open amid furious backlash from MPs and business over his ‘plan for daily cases to drop below 1,000 and wait until JULY before ending lockdown’ as even SCIENTISTS say he could go faster
By Jack Maidment and Connor Boyd for MailOnline
Boris Johnson today suggested pubs, bars and restaurants will be the final parts of the UK economy allowed to fully reopen under his lockdown exit strategy as the PM faced a growing Tory backlash over the roadmap.
The Prime Minister said his plans, which he will unveil on Monday, will be ‘based firmly on a cautious and prudent approach’ to ease restrictions in ‘such a way as to be irreversible’.
It is thought the document will not allow the hospitality sector to get back to normal until July, a prospect which immediately sparked Conservative anger, with the PM under growing pressure from his backbenches to scrap restrictions as quickly as possible.
Mr Johnson appeared to confirm during a visit to a Welsh vaccination centre that punters face a long wait before they can take a typical trip to a bar or restaurant.
He pointed to the approach taken to easing lockdown last year and said ‘we opened up hospitality fully as one of the last things that we did because there is obviously an extra risk of transmission from hospitality’.
It is thought lockdown rules could be eased at four-weekly intervals after a ‘limited’ loosening at the Easter holiday, with the hospitality sector likely having to wait until early May for the green light to resume restricted trading.
But Tory MPs are adamant venues should be able to immediately resume trading on Covid-secure terms at Easter.
Meanwhile, some scientists have questioned the slow speed of the reopening, arguing that the current data actually suggests measures could be lifted more rapidly.
Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said the vaccine roll-out and the protection provided by the jabs means ‘if you’re driven by the data and not by dates, right now, you should be looking at earlier unlocking’.
The PM’s comments came amid claims that the Government will not agree to a major easing of lockdown restrictions until new daily coronavirus case numbers are below 1,000, prompting accusations from Tory MPs of ‘moving the goalposts’.
Daily cases are currently above 10,000 and on the current trajectory they may not dip to three figures until April and that is before taking into account the potential impact on rate of infection of schools returning next month.
A senior Whitehall source told The Telegraph: ‘For any significant relaxation of lockdown, household mixing and reopening of pubs, case numbers have to be in the hundreds, not thousands.’
NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts in England, echoed a similar sentiment as it claimed case numbers will need to be 14 times lower than they are currently before lockdown can be lifted and all over-50s should receive both doses of a coronavirus vaccine first.
However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab distanced the Government from the hundreds of daily cases target as he said ‘there is no single cast-iron formula or one particular indicator that above all other considerations can decide this’.
The blueprint being discussed by ministers and industry leaders would allow restrictions to be eased only at four-weekly intervals. The gradual approach means traders would have to wait until at least Easter – early April – for a limited restart.
This is likely to include the reopening of holiday lets and larger hotels, with dining rooms still closed. Sports such as golf and tennis could resume. Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to wait until early May under the plans, with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors and the rule of six applying outside.
The next stage, in early June, would see the rules for pubs and restaurants relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors. The hospitality and domestic holiday industries could be allowed to return to normal in July – with social distancing.
The latest roadmap news came as it was claimed that the Government will soon unveil a mass-testing campaign which would see 400,000 rapid tests posted to homes and workplaces everyday.
Ministers hope the campaign, with the slogan ‘Are you ready? Get testing. Go’ will launch before schools reopen on March 8 and will help to get life back to normal.