The U.K. government will introduce a limited hotel quarantine system for passengers arriving from the highest-risk countries, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The move is aimed at curbing the spread of new variants of coronavirus that could prove resistant to vaccines, but is expected to apply to arrivals from countries with new forms of the virus, such as South Africa and Brazil.
Boris Johnson’s government has so far stopped short of imposing a blanket quarantine system on all arrivals, amid concern about a lack of hotel space near airports and the consequences for a travel industry already on its knees.
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The decision was made by ministers at a meeting Tuesday night, where they discussed a range of options for tightening border controls. It came as the U.K. recorded more than 100,000 deaths from coronavirus, the first European country to reach the milestone.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday the government wanted to ensure that new, more virulent variants would not derail Britain’s vaccination program — which has so far seen more than 6.8 million people receive a first dose.
The new hotel quarantine policy will only affect Britons arriving from high-risk countries, as travel bans are already in place for non-U.K. visitors.
The Labour opposition party said the move didn’t go far enough and would leave “gaping holes in our nation’s defences against different strains of the virus emerging around the world.”
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