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UK Announces Hotel Quarantine For 30 Countries

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Almost ten months on from the UK’s first national lockdown of the pandemic, the country has introduced its toughest measure yet for travelers hoping to visit the UK. The country has introduced mandatory quarantine for travelers from 30 different “red list” countries, that have been selected due to their high Covid-19 case levels and the prevalence of mutated strains of the virus in the country. Here are more details about the quarantine arrangement, and a look at other ways the country is enforcing the recommendation not to travel during the pandemic.

travelers mask uk tower bridge

UK Quarantine – Which Travelers Are Affected?

The idea of a quarantine for passengers heading to the UK has been in the headlines this week, with a blanket ban for all travelers expected to be announced by the British government. However, when the policy was confirmed many were shocked when it emerged that it didn’t cover all travelers, but only those coming from a “red list” country.

Under the new rule, travelers from these countries – including returning British nationals – would need to isolate in government-provided accommodation, such as hotels, for a period of ten days. They will be escorted directly from the airport to their facility, and travelers are to pay the costs for the quarantine arrangements themselves.

covid sign london

Travelers arriving from other countries, not on the hotel quarantine list, are still able to enter the UK, but with many restrictions. 

They will not need to enter a government facility for quarantine, but they are expected to self-isolate for ten days upon arrival, unless using the UK's ‘test to release' program. All travelers must show a negative Covid-19 test result to enter the country, as well as fill out a passenger locator form.

Some professions have exemptions for some of the Covid-related requirements needed to enter the UK – a full list can be found here.

The “red list” countries that the quarantine announcement applies to are:

  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ecuador
  • Eswatini
  • French Guiana,
  • Guyana
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
uk skyline flight window

Why Has Quarantine Been Introduced?

The UK had decided to introduce quarantine in order to prevent further spread of Covid-19 and its variants. The UK has struggled greatly with halting the spread of the virus throughout the pandemic, recording some of the worst Covid-related statistics in the world.

UK Set To Introduce Quarantine Hotels

It has a 7-day average of just below 30,000 cases per day, equating to 3.72 million total cases and 102,000 deaths. The country has entered several lockdowns, and has been accused of not being strict or swift enough with its actions.

Countries that are being subjected to quarantine measures have high cases numbers and have reported cases of the more-transmissible variants of coronavirus. The quarantine order has been issued to ensure these variants don’t find their way into the country, as the nation struggles to deal with its own virulent variant.

British Travelers Face Fines – What Travelers Should Know

As well as introducing strict rules controlling inbound travel, the UK is also committed to stemming outbound travel too. Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel decried the amount of people still traveling. She revealed that transport providers and an increased police presence would check people’s reasons for traveling, and would send them home if their reason was not deemed to be valid. They are also be liable to be fined.

UK masks police

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Thursday 11th of February 2021

Alas it is being said that international politics has also framed this move. Having dithered and delayed the UK Government found it had to do something so it came out with quarantine which most ignored so then the hotel scheme and everyone complained so all the influential countries such as the USA, Canada, Japan, the Northern EU states etc were all taken off the list leaving South America, Africa and such Asian states. No one there who can complain loudly. Poor old Portugal being the only EU state to suffer, even though more Brazilians fly in via Madrid than Lisbon. It has all the hallmarks of delay, dither and then rushed mistake much like the triple dated Negative Testing fiasco which preceded it. So Ms Patel wants 10 year prison sentences if you do not fill the form out correctly. So US Citizens who have not been South of Mexico recently can ignore it and as more Uk theatrics to mask a Government that has lost the plot. We hope the new US President can show by his deeds a mor professional approach though as of today we wait and see.

Adam Jones

Thursday 11th of February 2021

Can someone answer my query. I am due to fly from Maldives (which is not on list) albeit transit thru Dubai. Assuming I have a not detected test before flying , will I have to be quarantined in a hotel or can I quantine at home and then take test after 5 days to release?


Thursday 11th of February 2021

As neither your country of departure nor your transit country are in the red list you would be able to quarantine at home but you need to set up your test and release before commencing your journey to the UK. It is all quite civilized at Heathrow. Having flown in in January from an equally warm and relatively covid free area, I would advise you not to bother if you do not have to. Best of luck, do not forget the UK health form on line or Ms Patel will stamp her feet.


Thursday 28th of January 2021

Alas there is merit in your argument but we seem between two extremes neither of which seem that sensible. On the one hand we have people saying close everything, run away and hide and it will all go away. On the other we have people saying Covid does not exist, it is all a scam to undermine our rights. The middle ground of live your life, travel, do work but wear your mask keep away from crowded indoor areas and keep your hands washed seems unfashionable. I am just concerned news is continuing to be manipulated.


Thursday 28th of January 2021

I don’t want to sound alarmist; however, when you have government officials becoming vexed because people are simply leaving their homes and threatening them with fines and harassment from law enforcement — it’s a bit North Korea-ish, isn’t it?

This is becoming extremely unfair. I feel like they want to stop tourism forever as if it’s some outdated luxury.