Covid hotels Scotland: what are the government’s new quarantine hotels - and how much will it cost to self isolate?

UK nationals and tourists will be expected to pay more than £1,000 to isolate when they arrive in Scotland

International arrivals into the UK will be placed into mandatory quarantine in hotels for 10 days if the arrive from high risk countries, similar to measures introduced in Australia. (Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
International arrivals into the UK will be placed into mandatory quarantine in hotels for 10 days if the arrive from high risk countries, similar to measures introduced in Australia. (Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

As the Scottish Government attempts to stop new strains of coronavirus from entering into the country, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced people travelling into Scotland will need to quarantine at designated hotels.

Hotels will be contracted by the government to quarantine people who are travelling home to Scotland and tourists coming from high-risk countries.

All passengers required to isolate will be quarantined for 10 days, and they’ll be expected to foot the bill for their stay, with costs expected to be upwards of £1,000.

So what are the new travel restrictions and which countries will they apply to? This is what we know so far.

What can I expect if I arrive in Scotland?

Passengers arriving into Scotland from high-risk countries -where coronavirus cases are extremely high or the new strain of the virus is prevalent - will be required to isolate at a designated hotel.

On 26 January, John Swinney announced at the Scottish Government’s daily media briefing that Scotland would "go at least as far" as any UK government announcement - with its "own additional supervised quarantine measures" if needed.

It has not yet been determined whether the current vaccines in use are effective against new Covid variants.

Those who arrive from high risk destinations will be taken through customs and security in groups, without visiting any communal areas, before being driven to a hotel to begin their isolation period.

Passengers - regardless of whether they are resident in the UK or a tourist - will be expected to pay the costs incurred by their isolation period, which are estimated to be upwards of £1,000 per person.

The charges for quarantining are expected to be outlined by Boris Johnson at a press conference tonight (26 January).

Mandatory quarantine will last for 10 days, during which time those in quarantine will be required to stay in their rooms, with food provided via room service system.

All passengers arriving into the UK will still be expected to provide a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours prior to their arrival in the UK.

Those required to isolate at a hotel can be released early if they test negative for the virus after five days self-isolating.

Which countries are considered high risk?

At present, most of South Africa and South America, as well as Portugal, have been listed as countries requiring isolation at a hotel upon arrival in the UK.

However, the list could be lengthened in line with the rest of the UK. Pressure is being applied by ministers such as Priti Patel and Matt Hancock to impose the quarantine rules on any inbound passengers.

Where are Covid hotels?

It has yet to be announced which hotels will be contracted to house quarantining Scotland arrivals.

However, John Swinney did announce that there should be no limit on the number of people being forced to quarantine at any one time, as hotels are currently empty due to hospitality and tourism restrictions.

In England, the Best Western hotel chain has confirmed it is waiting on the ‘green light’ from the government, so it can begin to support the new travel quarantine programme.

The hotel group has locations across England and Scotland, though it is not yet known which specific hotels will be used as covid quarantine destinations.

Have other countries taken this approach?

In Australia and New Zealand, this approach has proven highly successful.

Arrivals into these countries have been required to isolate at specific hotels for a minimum of 14 days, and up to 24 days if they do not provide two negative coronavirus tests.

In Australia, the cost of staying in a hotel is approximately £1,700 ($3,000) per adult and £2,800 ($5,000) for a family of two adults and two children. Passengers arriving into the country are expected to pay these bills when their quarantine period has ended.

There are exceptions for people who can prove they are unable to pay.

Failing to comply with the quarantine duration is a criminal offence in Australia, at the cost of £6,000 ($10,500) for individuals, six months in prison, or both with an additional £3,100 ($5,500) fine for each day you remain out of quarantine.

The approach has seen Australia achieve no new infections for some weeks, while New Zealand had had no new cases for three months until one person proved positive in mid-January.

Are all areas of the UK taking the same precautions?

England was the first country in the UK to announce mandatory quarantine in hotels, as plans were unveiled on 25 January.

The UK is largely expected to take the same precautions across the four nations, with Scotland and England now confirming a joint approach.

The Northern Ireland Executive is also expected to discuss travel rules when it meets on Tuesday.