If the past year hasn’t been tough enough for airlines operating in the United Kingdom, now the major players in the aviation industry have another hurdle to overcome – the health secretary’s new rules of hotel quarantine policy.

Hotel Quarantine Policy
A major change to the UK’s travel… | © Shai Pai

The new hotel quarantine policy announcement

Shares have fallen across the board for big UK airlines, such as easyJet and TUI. In addition to the financial strain coronavirus has put on the companies, Matt Hancock, the UK’s health secretary, announced the arrival of a new rule that may damage the airlines further.

Hotel Quarantine Policy
Those arriving from the Red List will have to quarantine for ten days in a designated hotel. | © Heathrow

The UK government have tightened travel restrictions further and enforced a ten-day hotel quarantine policy for any travellers arriving from a country on the red list. The traveller will have to stay in a designated hotel for the duration of their isolation and be expected to pay £1,750 to cover the costs of their accommodation, transport and COVID testing. To further the discouragement of travel, that price is per person. In addition to this, if the traveller does not comply with the rules put in place, then they face fines of up to £10,000. The government have secured seventeen hotels close to arrival points that are set up and ready to book for those isolating.

New Hotel Quarantine Stay Policy
Dark days lay ahead for travellers and airlines. | © Myznik Egor

What’s the red list?

The countries on the red list are those that pose a risk of a new COVID-19 variant. Brazil, Columbia and South Africa all made it onto the list, along with thirty other countries that could carry an exposure to new strains.

If individuals lie on their passenger locator forms or provide false information, then they may face a hefty ten year prison sentence.

What else has changed for those arriving in the UK?

As well as the new quarantine, those travelling will also have to take a COVID test before they depart and on the second and eighth day of their isolated hotel stay. If the tests come back positive, then their quarantine is extended by another ten days.

As non-essential travel abroad is banned, the new policy only applies to UK residents and citizens trying to come home from the red list.

New Hotel Quarantine Policy
The airlines will struggle under the strain of the new policy. | © Elizabeth Jamison

What does the hotel quarantine policy mean for airlines?

Those in the travel industry are worried about what this means for travel in 2021, with many airlines already suffering major losses. UK airlines were holding out hope that aspects of the aviation industry could start getting back on track again once the vaccines were rolled out. It seems the airlines are in agreement that public health is the number one priority, but financial backing may need to be reassessed if airlines are to survive the year.

The new policy is set to begin next week to control the spread of any new coronavirus variants, but with airlines still pushing for financial help, how long can the travel industry stay grounded? Let us know your thoughts on this new announcement below!

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