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England introduces quarantine hotels and further post-arrival COVID-19 testing

12 February 2021

From 15 February 2021, international arrivals to England will be required to quarantine in a government-managed hotel if, within the ten days before arrival, they have been in or transited a country to which a travel ban applies (‘red list countries’). Additional post-arrival COVID-19 testing has been mandated from the same date. A raft of sanctions will also apply for non-compliance.

The additional measures have been put in place to further reduce the risk of new coronavirus variants arriving in the UK.

The Department of Health and Social Care published quarantine hotel guidance on 11 February 2021 outlining the new requirements for arrivals from travel ban countries. Separate guidance was updated for all other arrivals to England from outside the Common Travel Area. A booking portal that was due to launch at the same time was delayed, leaving little time for people with arrivals scheduled for 15 February and the following days to make their arrangements.

Managed isolation in hotels

Unless exempt as defined in the quarantine hotel guidance, individuals arriving in England who have been in or transited a red list country within ten days of their arrival must go into quarantine in a government-managed hotel for ten days from their arrival. The date of arrival is calculated as day zero.

Affected individuals must:

  • Book a transport service that will arrive into Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, Birmingham Airport or Farnborough Airport (other ports of arrival may be added in future) – people with existing bookings arriving on or after 15 February must re-book to arrive at an authorised port
  • Take a COVID-19 test within the three days before the service they will travel to England on on departs, and receive a negative test result
  • Book a quarantine package (which includes transport to and from the hotel, hotel stay including meals and day 2 and 8 COVID-19 testing) via the booking portal on GOV.UK
  • Complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours of arrival in the UK, including the managed quarantine hotel details and quarantine package booking reference

The cost of the quarantine package is as follows:

One adult in one room for 10 days (11 nights)


Additional adult or child over 12


Additional child aged between 5 and 12


These costs will be reviewed periodically, with the first review due before the end of March 2021. Individuals who receive income-related benefits may request to pay for the quarantine package via a deferred repayment plan of 12 monthly instalments.

It is not clear from the guidance what additional costs will be incurred if a person tests positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine (or is a close contact of a person who tests positive) and must remain at the hotel for an extended period. This is of concern as it is not currently possible to assess from publicly available information what the overall cost of quarantine may be.

Upon arrival, the passenger locator form must be presented to Border Force with each individual’s passport and negative COVID-19 test result. Arranged transport will then take groups of passengers to the quarantine hotel. The package includes transport back to the airport of arrival at the end of the quarantine period.

Post-arrival COVID-19 testing

For all arrivals aged five and over who must quarantine in a government-managed hotel, COVID-19 tests must be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8.

From 15 February 2021, all other arrivals to England from outside the Common Travel Area must take COVID-19 tests on or before day 2 and on or after day 8. In addition to the already established pre-departure negative COVID-19 test requirement, they must book a travel test package at a cost of £210. The booking portal was due to launch on 11 February 2021 but was delayed due to a technical error. The travel test package booking reference number when they complete their passenger locator form.

An additional free NHS test should be requested if a person in hotel or home quarantine develops a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss/altered sense of smell or taste.

Sanctions for non-compliance

Sanctions for non-compliance include:

Providing false or deliberately misleading information on a passenger locator form

Fine of up to £10,000 and/or jail for up to ten years

Failing to arrange a quarantine package before arrival

Penalty of up to £4,000 plus cost of quarantine package

Arriving at a port other than a designated port

Penalty of up to £10,000 plus cost of transportation to nearest designated port

Breaking quarantine rules

Penalty of up to £10,000

Refusal to take COVID-19 test

Penalty of up to £2,000

If you have any queries about the current or planned requirements and how to manage them, please get in touch with a member of our Immigration Team.

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