Travellers arriving back into the UK could have to pay thousands of pounds to stay in ‘quarantine hotels’, under new Government plans.
Boris Johnson is under pressure from ministers to toughen border controls, to prevent new variants of Covid-19 entering the UK.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and the Health Secretary Matt Hancock are understood to be pushing for a mandatory quarantine in Government-approved accommodation for all arrivals.
The cost of 14 days in a quarantine hotel for an adult is £1,692 in Australia, £1,630 in New Zealand and £642 in Thailand – the three countries that have introduced the measure so far.
There are fears that quarantine hotels could create havoc for outbound and inbound tourism, and that tighter border restrictions may put summer holidays under threat.
Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, said: “Such a move would destroy confidence to book and would lead to a collapse in booking revenues for airlines, tour operators and many other travel specialists. As well as a collapse in visitor numbers spending money inbound.
“Boris Johnson needs to give a timeline for when they will be removed and be upfront on the economic impact on the aviation and travel sector.”
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Meet the ‘extreme pandemic relocators’
Most of us spent last year staring at the same four walls, working from home and socialising locally – when lockdown restrictions allowed. We nested, driving a huge spike in renovations, home furnishings and landscaping, while travel plans were shelved.
‘This is completely insane’
Footage from Heathrow Airport shows packed queues in close proximity.
UK’s leading ski operator cancels future holidays
Crystal Ski Holiday has cancelled all ski holidays until March 6 as the pandemic continues to force travellers to rearrange their upcoming plans.
Trips departing to all destinations, including Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, Finland and Norway, have been called off up to and including March 5. The operator continues to make rolling decisions on whether to cancel trips, inline with Government guidance.
“We’re aware of recent announcements regarding restrictions to some of our destinations. We’ll be proactively contacting any customers whose holidays are impacted as soon as possible to discuss their options, prioritising those due to travel in the coming weeks. We are continuing to monitor the situation,” reads a statement. All customers are entitled to a full refund or are able to amend their trip to a future date, free of charge, as part of Crystal’s Holiday Promise.
This news is the final blow to February half term ski holidays, as Crystal is one of the last to confirm trips won’t run during this peak period. Hotelplan, which operates Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski has already cancelled all trips until March, at the earliest.
This leaves roughly six remaining weeks of the ski season for operators to salvage any remaining trips. Some of Europe’s high-altitude resorts, such as Val Thorens, Tignes and Val d’Isere remain open until the end of April and some into May. But with lifts still shut in France, borders closed across Europe to Britons and travel banned under the UK’s own lockdown it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the majority British skiers will get their moment on the slope this winter.
‘Lockdowns and border closures have repeatedly failed – it’s time we let them go’
“We modern humans have now spent the best part of a year operating under the conditions of a large-scale global experiment with a noble aim: to stamp out a virus that has become endemic,” writes Annabel Fenwick Elliott.
“Thank goodness this particular plague isn’t very dangerous to the vast majority of the people it meets because the results are in, and they’re not good.
“No amount of shutting borders, banning flights, bankrupting businesses, cancelling surgeries, denying children a decent education or wrecking havoc on people’s mental health has delivered us to the promised land of a Covid-free existence.
“In the UK, ten months on from our first three-week experimental lockdown, the one enacted to ‘protect’ our health system, we are a nation still under house arrest, a good deal poorer and more miserable, and the NHS is still, we are repeatedly warned, at ‘breaking point’.”
So has it really all been worth it? Read Annabel’s comment piece here.
Britain faces three-month ‘halfway house’ lockdown after Easter as over-50s wait for second vaccine
Britain faces a three-month lockdown “halfway house” after Easter, with a full reopening delayed until all over-50s have had their second dose of the vaccine, The Telegraph understands.
Ministers are considering proposals to begin reopening swathes of the economy in April under similar restrictions to those in place over the summer, with “rule of six” and social distancing measures in force in pubs and restaurants.
A return to full normality will be delayed for at least 12 to 14 weeks to allow for all over-50s to have their second dose of the vaccine, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
Ministers are keen to reopen hospitality venues in some capacity before the G7 summit in the second week of June, when the UK will host world leaders in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
National measures will be eased in advance of the summit, allowing pubs, restaurants and tourism to begin to trade again.
Airline shares tumble as tighter restrictions loom
The FTSE 100 and 250 both narrowly in the red, and it’s airlines that are proving the day’s worst performers amid concerns about new restrictions.
British Airways owner IAG is leading fallers on the FTSE 100, down about 7pc, while aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce has also fallen sharply.
On the FTSE 250, easyJet has dropped hardest, although TUI and Wizz Air are not far behind.
The UK is mulling tighter border controls, France is expected to enter a new lockdown in the coming days, and new US President Joe Biden will continue to restriction travel from much of Europe.
Follow all the updates on our Business Blog.
Cabinet row as ministers consider plans to bus arrivals to hotels for quarantine
Travellers to the UK face being bussed from the airport to hotels around the country amid a Cabinet row over whether compulsory quarantine should be enforced at the border.
Boris Johnson is under pressure from ministers to toughen border controls to prevent new variants of coronavirus from reaching the UK.
On Sunday, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, revealed that authorities have already identified 77 cases of the South African variant in the UK, and have placed the patients under “very close” observation.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and Mr Hancock are understood to be pushing for a mandatory quarantine in Government-approved accommodation for all arrivals.
But limited hotel capacity near major airports could mean passengers must be transported by bus to rooms elsewhere in the UK to wait out a 10-day quarantine period.