UK Government hasn't signed a single hotel quarantine contract with one week to go

The UK Government hasn't signed a single hotel quarantine contract with one week to go until the scheme starts.

Last week measures were announced that will require around 1,000 UK residents a day entering the country from the 33 “red list” countries with new Covid variants to enter quarantine.

Despite the policy being announced three weeks ago, Downing Street on Monday admitted not a single contract with hotel firms had been agreed ahead of the policy’s launch.

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Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “Last week, the Department of Health issued a commercial specification to hotels near ports and airports.

Passengers, wearing a protective face masks, wait at the check-in area at Edinburgh Airport

“We are working closely with hotels and other accommodation providers near ports and airports.

“No formal contracts have been awarded yet.”

The Scotsman understands some hotels are already offering quarantine stay arrangements, but are yet to come to any formal agreement with the UK Government.

Some 147 cases of the South African strain, which is believed to have some resistance to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, have been discovered in the UK so far.

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Downing Street also refused to rule out whether Brits will be able to opt for “luxury” quarantine options for a higher price or if they will have a choice about where they can stay.

The PM’s spokesman explained: “It remains the case that the Department of Health continue to work closely with hotels as we move forward to introduce the policy from February 15.

“You can expect further updates on this this week.”

Asked if there had been any increase in arrivals or people coming back early to beat quarantine, the PM's official spokesman replied: "Not that I’ve seen".

On Sunday Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman would not say whether any hotel rooms have yet been booked for the new system, which will see people entering Scotland forced to quarantine in approved hotels for ten days.

Operators of the country's biggest airports also say they do not know how the plans, which come into force in a week, will work.

Ms Freeman would only say that "discussions are under way" with hotels and airports, while the Scottish Government was still seeking to persuade UK ministers to take a tougher stance on quarantining international arrivals.

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