Arrivals from 33 high-risk countries will have to serve 10 days mandatory self-isolation at government-appointed accommodation, starting 15 February.
The protracted roll-out of the government’s hotel quarantine policy will see the measures introduced in just under a fortnight’s time, more than a month after the idea was first publicly floated.
According to the BBC, the government is block-booking thousands of hotel rooms in anticipation of at least 1,000 daily arrivals who will be required to quarantine.
The rules will apply to UK residents and Irish nationals returning from much of South America and southern Africa, as well as Portugal, to guard against the import of new strains of Covid-19 that could impact the UK’s vaccination programme.
Non-UK residents are already banned from travelling to the UK from these countries and/or territories.
Arrivals will be met at the airport and transported directly to a hotel quarantine facility, and will have to pay for their stay. It is not clear at this stage whether the cost will be subsidised by government.
Documents relating to the policy, seen by the BBC, state guests will be provided three meals a day in their rooms, and will have access to tea, coffee, fruit and water. They will be allowed access to outdoor space if they need it, albeit in the company of security.
It is understood there will be designated hotel quarantine facilities near a number of major airports, notably Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday (3 February) that health secretary Matt Hancock would finally detail the measures in full on Thursday (4 February). However, Number 10 rolled back on this suggestion, made at the government’s 3 February Covid briefing, stating Johnson had been "misinformed".
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday (4 February), Best Western Hotels’ UK chief Rob Paterson said the chain "had not heard anything [about the policy] other than very broad information". "We have simply been kept in the dark".
The prime minister’s official spokesperson later said the government was continuing to work on ensuring the policy was introduced successfully.
"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.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, however, confirmed the 15 February date – which has been circulating for several days – late on Thursday evening, citing government sources.
Labour, which has for several weeks called for tougher border restrictions to control the flow of Covid into the country, said the measures were "too little, too late".
A Department for Health spokesperson told the Press Association it had been in discussions with representatives of the aviation, maritime, hotel and hospitality industries to finalise its plans for the regime.
“We are now working at pace to secure the facilities we need to roll out managed quarantine for British nationals returning home from the most high-risk countries, and are rightly engaging with representatives from the hospitality, maritime and aviation industry, and learning from our friends around the world," said the spokesperson.