Anyone arriving in England and found to have lied about a recent visit to a country on the British government’s travel ban list faces up to 10 years in prison under tough coronavirus border policies announced last week.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that residents of the U.K. and Ireland arriving in England from the places on the government’s “red list” will have to purchase a “quarantine package” that costs 1,750 pounds (about $2,400) per person and covers accommodations, virus testing and other items.
“I make no apologies for the strength of these measures because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation,” Hancock told lawmakers. “People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.”
At present, there are 33 countries, including South Africa, Portugal and all of South America, from where travel to England is effectively banned largely because of concerns over new variants of the coronavirus.
The British government has contracted with 16 hotels, for an initial 4,600 rooms. The hotels involved have not been identified “for commercial reasons.”
Travelers failing to quarantine in a designated hotel face fines of up to 10,000 pounds ($13,800.) The harshest potential penalty of up to 10 years in jail could be assigned to those who lie about visiting any of the red list countries.
How long the measures stay in place will depend on the path of the pandemic and whether new virus variants negate the rapid vaccine rollout in the U.K. Already, some 12.65 million people have received their first dose, equivalent to around 20% of the adult population.