Regulations requiring people from “red list” countries to quarantine in hotels have been published, just three days before the scheme becomes law. UK nationals or residents returning to England from 33 countries will be required to spend 10 days in Government-designated accommodation from Monday.
The law sets out new requirements for people to book their “managed self-isolation package” which includes a hotel, transport and testing.
But Lucy Moreton, of the Immigration Services Union which represents Home Office immigration staff, said members had not received information about how the system would work.
She told The Guardian: “They can watch the media, read statements from ministers, but that’s pretty much it.
“I recognise the complexity of the logistics, but this is all really difficult for the staff, more so than the other changes.
“We’re hearing a lot of concern from people who are concerned about encountering someone who has been in a red-list country and hasn’t declared it. Could they face abuse? Are they expected to detain them?”
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, who studies coronavirus rules and tries to simplify them for the public, criticised the timing of the legislation’s publication, so close to the rules becoming law.
He tweeted: “Inexcusable that these have been published *zero* working days before they come into force and will not be scrutinised by Parliament at all before they do.”
People must quarantine in the room but exceptions allowing them to leave include the need for urgent medical assistance, to exercise or attend the funeral of a close family member.
The regulations state that leaving for these exceptional reasons should only happen if the person “has been given prior permission by a person authorised by the secretary of state for this purpose”.
The legislation, called the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No. 7) Regulations 2021, comes into force at 4am on Monday.
People may only arrive into Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, Birmingham Airport, Farnborough Airport or any military airfield or port, the legislation states.
Travellers are required to have booked a “testing package”, which includes provision for a test on days two and eight of their quarantine.
The accompanying explanatory memorandum to the legislation says travellers “can only leave managed quarantine or self-isolation once they have received a negative result from their day eight test and quarantined until the end of the 10-day period”.
Passengers arriving into England face fines of up to £10,000 for failing to quarantine, and those who lie on their passenger locator forms face up to 10 years in jail, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced earlier this week.
The cost for a quarantine hotel stay is £1,750 for a single adult.
The regulations say the secretary of state or a person designated by him “may impose a charge in relation to the accommodation, transport and testing package” and that the secretary of state “may recover any sum owed by P (the traveller) pursuant to such a charge as a debt”.
Guidance published by the Government on Thursday said people on income-related benefits can apply for a deferred repayment plan when making their quarantine package booking and repay the cost in 12 monthly instalments.
Published: by Radio NewsHub