What Quarantine Hotels Cost In Other Countries As UK Scheme Looks Likely To Get Go Ahead
“Quarantine hotels” for overseas visitors to the UK are expected to be approved tomorrow. Similar measures in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong cost up to £2,600.
There there are exemptions for those facing extreme hardship, as well as for people returning for funerals or to visit dying relatives.
Ministers will thrash out the final details and costs of the proposal at a meeting of a Covid operations planning group called Covid-O tomorrow.
They are part of government attempts to significantly reduce the chance of a new strain of the virus coming into the country.
Most people coming to the UK will be asked to self-fund a 10-day stay in a hotel as a government source said they are looking to keep tax-payer funded stays to an “a minimum”.
The government is understood to be working out who will be exempt from payments today.
“There would be a cost to the person. It’s not fair that it would sit on the tax payer,” a government spokesperson said.
The Prime Minister said today that the government is “definitely looking at” the hotel system – eight months after it was first introduced in New Zealand.
In a TV interview he added: "But the UK does already have one of the tightest regimes at the border already."
Currently people coming to the UK must have proof of a negative coronavirus test before arrival, and then isolate for 10 days, but until 15 January several countries were exempt from the isolation period as part of the travel corridor scheme. The negative test requirement was only introduced on January 8 this year.
Parts of Germany began to require a negative Covid-19 test from a list of high risk countries in July. In August Finland announced it would require mandatory tests from high risk countries.
Greece introduced testing for anyone arriving into the country in November.
Boris Johnson said his priority is to protect the UK's vaccination programme, adding: "We are on target to hit our ambition of vaccinating everybody in the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February.
"If we're going to make that effort, we want to make sure we protect our population against re-infection from abroad."
The Prime Minister said that quarantine hotels were an idea the government is "actively working on".
"We need a solution that gives us the maximum possible protection," he said.
New Zealand has run a quarantine hotel system for arrivals into the country for almost a year – since April 2020. Costs range from $3,100 (around £1,630) for the first person in a room, and up to $5,000 (around £2,600) for two adults and two children.
People must isolate for 14 days, and are given three meals a day. Over the course of a stay people are tested for Covid-19 two or three times depending which country they have arrived from.
There are currently no slots available in any of New Zealand's quarantine hotels until the end of April, due to the huge level of demand. Currently around 5,000 people are using the system.
There are exemptions for hardship, compassionate reasons, and for those who left New Zealand before the summer, as well as non-citizens who lived in the country ordinarily pre-March 2020.
In Australia, the hotel system varies by state, but for example in New South Wales where Sydney is situated, the minimum stay is 14 days, and it can go up to 24 days if someone gets a positive Covid-19 test result.
Travellers or returning citizens are allocated a hotel on the day of their arrival and costs are similar to New Zealand at around $5,000 for a family of four.
In Hong Kong overseas travellers must isolate for 21 days, recently bumped up from 14 days. A standard double room for an all inclusive stay in a designated hotel that is serving isolating guests costs between HKD 14,280 to HKD 15,330 - which is between £1300 and £1400.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “We're ready to strengthen our border policy where appropriate, to protect public health.
“We keep all of our measures under review, and we're ready to strengthen our border policy where appropriate.”