News: Hancock unveils new border measures for travellers to England

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The government in England has announced a series of new measures designed to limit the spread of new variants of Covid-19.

Announcing tougher border measures, health secretary Matt Hancock said the new rules aim to “secure the nation” against mutations.

From next week, UK and Irish residents arriving into England from “red list” countries must book a place in hotel quarantine before travelling.

This includes arrivals from much of South America, South Africa, Portugal and elsewhere.

Travellers will be charged fees – equivalent to £1,750 for an individual travelling alone – which includes ten-days accommodation, testing and transport.

Hancock confirmed sixteen hotels with 4,600 rooms have been secured around ports and airports in England to accommodate travellers.

Arrivals without a British or Irish passport will be barred from entry.

At the same time, travellers from destinations not on the red list must book two PCR tests ahead of travel to take during their quarantine at home.

The health secretary also unveiled a new regime of penalties designed to toughen enforcement.

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Travellers could face a fine of up to £2,000 for failing to take a booked test, up to £10,000 for avoiding hotel quarantine; and up to ten years in prison for lying on passenger locator forms.

Hancock said the measures applied to England, but the devolved administrations were looking at similar measures.

Responding to the announcement of further restriction, Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, the trade association for UK airports, and Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said in a joint statement: “While public health must come first, this latest measure means all travellers to the UK will need to take three tests in addition to quarantine.

“It adds a further barrier to viable air travel and deepens the worsening 2021 outlook for our sector, which has already been largely grounded for a year.”

The statement added: “A two-week review clause is essential to ensure that the current complex, blanket set of measures are rolled-back as soon as it is safe to do so.

“International travel must also be part of the prime minister’s forthcoming roadmap out of lockdown, including transparent and risk-based health criteria for the lifting of travel restrictions.

“In the meantime, airports and airlines are battling to survive with almost zero revenue and a huge cost base, and practically every week a further blow lands.

“Aviation-specific financial support is urgently needed to ensure our sector can get through the year.”

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