Travel will have to wait another week for further details of the government’s hotel quarantine plans after Downing Street on Thursday (4 February) admitted the details were still being ironed out.
The concession from Number 10 came after prime minister Boris Johnson mistakenly told the nation on Wednesday (3 February) health secretary Matt Hancock would outline the measures the following day.
It also followed a claim by Best Western Hotels chief executive Rob Paterson that the chain had been "kept in the dark" and "not heard anything other than very broad information" about the policy.
On Thursday (4 February), the prime minister’s official spokesperson said the government was continuing to work on ensuring the policy was introduced successfully, the BBC reported.
"There are operational aspects of the policy that need to be completed and once they are we will set out the full details next week," the spokesperson added.
To date, the government has confirmed arrivals from 33 high-risk countries would be met at airports and taken to government-appointed hotel accommodation to serve 10 days "supervised" self-isolation.
However, neither Johnson nor home secretary Priti Patel have yet been able to give a definitive start date for the policy, despite appearances in the House of Commons to firm up the policy.
A rumoured 15 February start date, widely reported in the national press, would be the best part of a month after the policy was first publicly aired, and weeks after it was debated by cabinet.
Johnson, on 22 January, said he could not rule out the government taking further action at the UK’s borders, despite the introduction of pre-departure testing and self-quarantine for all UK arrivals after the country’s remaining quarantine-free travel corridors were suspended in mid-January.
His admission came a day after The Guardian reported details of a draft "borders enforcement" policy paper detailing a range of measures under consideration by the Home Office, including hotel quarantine.
Both Johnson and Patel appeared before the Commons last week to address the house on progress; Johnson said the measures would be "targeted", applying only to those countries from which travel was deemed to pose a risk of importing new Covid-19 variants.
Patel, meanwhile, reinforced the government’s measures to further limit international travel, but like Johnson, offered no timeframe for the hotel quarantine policy.