All arrivals into England will, from Monday (15 February), have to test negative for Covid three times before they can return to day-to-day life.
Health secretary Matt Hancock on Tuesday (9 February) confirmed a range of new measures to guard against the import of new Covid-19 variants.
Besides the existing pre-departure testing requirement, all those travelling to the country will have to take tests on the second and eighth day of their 10-day self-isolation period – whether they are in hotel quarantine or home quarantine – bringing the total number of negative tests required to enter the UK and re-enter society up to three.
Additionally, arrivals from the 33 countries on the government’s "red list" – which includes much of South America, southern Africa and Portugal – will have to self-isolate for 10 days in a government-appointed hotel quarantine facility, including UK and Irish nationals.
They will have to book their stay in advance of travel, which will cost £1,750pp covering the cost of a 10-day hotel stay, transport and testing.
A booking portal will go live on Thursday (11 February) and full guidance on the measures will be published the same day.
Hancock said passengers will only be able to enter the country through a limited number of ports.
The government has contracted 16 hotels offer an initial 4,600 rooms, although Hancock said more would be contracted if necessary.
The health secretary said the government was working on "similarly tough" schemes in the UK’s devolved administrations, and was working with the Republic of Ireland too on its plans.
From Monday, all arrivals will be required to take additional PCR tests for Covid-19 on day two and day eight of either their hotel or home quarantine.
Passengers will be required to book these in advance of travel, with a booking portal for these also due to go live on Thursday.
Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 from their day two or day eights will automatically incur a further 10-day self-isolation requirement from the date of the positive test.
Any positives will undergo genomic sequencing to establish whether the infection is a new variant likely to pose a threat to the UK’s vaccination programme.
Those arriving from non-red list destinations can use the test to release scheme on the fifth day to shorten their self-isolation requirement, although this will be at travellers’ own expense – and they will still be required to take the day eight test.
New fines ranging up to £10,000 could be levied on those flouting or breaking the rules, while anyone found to be lying on their passenger locator form to hide travel to a red list destination could be jailed for up to 10 years.