The government is expected to announce this week that all travellers entering the UK will be required to undergo a double-testing regime, as part of quarantine plans to reduce the spread of new coronavirus variants.

Passengers coming from 33 high-risk nations will have to take two tests during their 10-day stay at a quarantine hotel – and this testing requirement will be extended to all travellers coming from overseas, according to reports.

The new hotel quarantine rules come into force on February 15.

The Guardian said that the development was first reported in the Telegraph on February 5, and was not denied by the Department of Health and Social Care.

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Many of those quarantining are likely to be British citizens and those with residence rights who are still allowed to return home. They will have to quarantine at home, while also taking a test on the second and eighth day of isolation, like those staying in hotels.

The new testing programme will mean all travellers must take three tests – one in the 72-hour period before they travel to the UK and then two more.

A DHSC spokesperson told the Guardian: “Throughout the pandemic, the government has put in place proportionate measures, informed by the advice of scientists, that has led to some of the toughest border regimes in the world. It is important the government continues to take the necessary steps to protect people and save lives.

“Enhancing our testing regime to cover all arrivals while they isolate will provide a further level of protection and enable us to better track any new cases which might be brought into the country, and give us even more opportunities to detect new variants.”

More details of the mandatory quarantine and testing system will be outlined soon, said the Guardian.

The newspaper also reported that government officials “are said to be scrambling to secure hotel rooms and other services to get the system up and running”.

There may be further changes to the government’s travel ban list, which currently includes much of South America, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.

Travel industry commentator Paul Charles, of the PC Agency, tweeted: “I understand #TestToRelease is to be abandoned from 15th February as the government enforces two more PCR swab tests for all those entering the #UK. Tests will be done on days 2 and 8 of 10-day #quarantine. Regular testing will be with us for some time.”

Introduced in December, the test to release scheme enabled travellers to test on the fifth day of isolation and be released from quarantine if the result was negative.

MoreMinister says government has no plans for vaccine passports

Welsh first minister hits out at hotel quarantine scheme