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COVID-19: British hotel quarantine – too little too late?

COVID-19: British hotel quarantine – too little too late?

The United Kingdom has announced that passengers arriving from Portugal, parts of Africa and most of South America will now have to serve 10 days of compulsory government-supervised hotel quarantine including testing on arrival. See the full list of countries below.

Policy Change

The policy change is an attempt to limit the importation of new strains of the COVID-19 virus, which are reportedly more highly transmissible. That’s an important move in a country where the hospital system is being overwhelmed with cases – even though the number of daily infections is currently trending downwards.

The rule applies to anyone who has been in the affected countries within the last 10 days. British and Irish nationals can enter Britain, but will need to serve the 10 day compulsory quarantine. Non-British citizens who have visited the named countries are banned from entry, altogether.

Those in government supervised hotel quarantine will be charged around £1,500 for the privilege.

a woman standing in a terminal

Affected countries

If you have arrived, or been in any of the following countries over the last 10 days, and you are a British subject, then expect to go into compulsory hotel quarantine for 10 days. If you are not British – then expect to be denied entry to the UK.

  • 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
a large building with a lot of windows
Heathrow, Terminal 5


All arriving passengers are already meant to self-isolate for 10 days, but this is not policed or really enforced. As for the rule that only ‘essential’ travel should be undertaken, tell that to the people arriving at Euston Station with their ski’s packed for their ‘essential’ EuroStar trip to the slopes, or the British influencers posting from Dubai, because, you know, that selfie at Burj Arab is essential business!

a large building with many windows
Heathrow, Terminal 2

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

The only problem with this move is it’s ‘too little, too late’, especially for the non-compliant British population. The disobedient attitude is no surprise given that Boris has performed so many backflips with policy, he should be an Olympics grade gymnast. The scientific policy advice he has been getting is also pretty spineless. That hasn’t helped the confused and ever-changing messaging emanating from government.

I find it difficult to imagine what it is like living in Britain at the moment – or America for that matter, given that my experience is limited to the fairly COVID-19 free Australia I have live in for the last 12 months.

I cancel my flights when state borders are closed and wear a mask over and above whatever the government here mandates. My reward is a life fairly close to normal, bar the testing, the QR codes and the social distancing. Shops, restaurants and bars are all open, and I can get a haircut (mask-wearing compulsory) as I did today.

Put your damn mask on!

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