Senior politicians claim the government’s plan to quarantine arrivals from 33 Covid hotspots won’t protect the UK properly – as concerns mount about safety at the hotels where passengers will isolate.

Those arriving at selected English airports from Monday (February 15) must be isolated in nearby hotels but Scotland’s quarantine regime will apply to all arrivals.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she has “raised concerns that the UK borders are as a whole…a bit too leaky to protect properly against the importation of this virus and new variants of it”.

She is trying to persuade the UK government to impose the same level of restrictions that Scotland will introduce on Monday.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited Heathrow on Thursday to see preparations for the quarantine hotels and reiterated his call for all arrivals to be isolated.

Talking of a race between variants and the vaccine, he claimed that about 10,000 people a day could arrive in Britain from higher risk countries without being subject to hotel quarantine.

The BBC is also highlighting how the UK hotel quarantine rules are less stringent than those enforced in Australia which are “seen as a gold standard internationally”.

In Australia, people in quarantine hotels are not allowed to leave their rooms but in the UK, security staff can “accompany any of the arrived individuals to access outside space should they need to smoke or get fresh air”.

Meal delivery times were staggered in Australia after the risks of the virus travelling in the air from one room to another were recognised.

There is no mention in the UK guidance about the timing of food deliveries.

Hotel staff in Australia are also equipped with more effective face masks than those mandated in the UK, as transmission through aerosols is thought to be risky.

The problems of hotel quarantine have been further highlighted by news that the Australian state of Victoria will enter lockdown for a third time to suppress an outbreak of the UK strain of coronavirus.

Officials have found 13 cases stemming from a quarantine worker who became infected at a Melbourne hotel, said the BBC.

The Australian Open tennis tournament will continue in the state’s capital, Melbourne, but spectators will be banned from attending the event from Saturday.