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Quarantine hotels expected as part of tough new border restrictions

A decision on tightening border rules to curb new variants of Covid-19 is expected to be made tomorrow by Boris Johnson.

The introduction of quarantine hotels for everyone entering the UK is a key option under consideration.

Health secretary Matt Hancock made the case for a blanket ban yesterday, warning that it was impossible to predict where new and potentially vaccine-resistant strains of the virus might come from.

He told Times Radio: “It is because of the new variants that we’re more worried about international travel.

“The critical thing is to make sure we protect ourselves from a new variant that might not respond as effectively to the vaccine.”

The travel and aviation industries fear that blanket travel restrictions would kill off the summer holiday season.

The government was last week urged to extend support for airports affected by the closure of UK travel corridors to the wider travel industry.

A further tightening of international travel restrictions was flagged after home secretary Priti Patel warned that it was “far too early” to consider booking summer holidays.

The prime minister has not ruled out bringing in tougher measures at UK borders, telling a Downing Street news conference on Friday: “We don’t want to put that (efforts to control Covid) at risk by having a new variant come back in.”

A meeting of the government’s Covid operations committee on Tuesday will determine what new border measures are needed to prevent new strains of the virus jeopardising the mass vaccination programme.

Home Office proposals reportedly being drawn up would mean all arrivals into UK airports and ports would be escorted to designated Covid-19 hotels where they would be expected to remain for ten days.

They would need to have another negative test before being allowed to leave.

Talks are being held with hotel chains about taking over properties.

Officials are confident that they can find enough capacity to accommodate all arrivals, currently totalling 10,000 a day, The Times reported.

However, another report suggested a shortage of rooms at airports would mean arrivals having to be taken to hotels around the country.

The plans are similar to those introduced by Australia and New Zealand at an early stage of the pandemic.

All remaining quarantine-free travel corridors were suspended last week in response to concerns about new variants of Covid-19, meaning that arrivals have to produce a negative test taken within the previous 72 hours and enter isolation for up to ten days.

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