Gatwick Airport calls for support package as hotel quarantine begins

Gatwick Airport is calling on the Government to give the aviation industry more support amid new travel restrictions.

From February 15, anyone who has been in a country listed on the Government’s red list – made up of 33 hotspots with COVID variants in circulation – will have to enter England through a designated port and have pre-booked a quarantine package to stay at one of the government’s managed quarantine facilities, the Department for Health and Social Care said.

Anyone arriving not from a red list country must still quarantine for 10 days at home and complete two mandatory Covid-19 tests on the second and eighth day after arriving.

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Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “As this deadly virus evolves, so must our defences. We have already taken tough action to limit the spread, protect people and save lives.

Gatwick South terminal SR2007066 SUS-200607-172332001

“With the emergence of new variants, we must go further. The rules coming into force today will bolster the quarantine system and provide another layer of security against new variants at the border.

“These new measures are important to protect our vaccination programme, which has now seen 15 million people vaccinated, we all work towards restoring normal life.”

The airport doesn’t currently have any direct flights coming in from red-listed countries.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said it understood the reasons for imposing the new restrictions but they would ‘severely curtail’ all international travel to and from the UK.

She added: “As a matter of urgency, we ask the Government to quickly set out a clear pathway to recovery for the aviation and travel sectors.

“This should include less costly, complex and onerous procedures for passengers to follow in order for them to return to travelling safely with confidence this summer.

“International travel has been brought to a virtual standstill and the aviation industry also urgently needs a comprehensive financial support package from Government to help the sector preserve vital national infrastructure assets and as many jobs as possible.”

The government has struck deals with 16 hotels around the country so far, providing 4,963 rooms for the new quarantine system, with a further 58,000 rooms currently on standby.

Border Force have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to people suspected of lying on their passenger locator form and where necessary detain them for up to three hours.

As part of the regulations, a requirement for quarantining individuals to self-isolate in their room is set out in law, the Department for Health and Social Care said. There will be also be a visible security presence at the managed quarantine facilities to ensure that people are obeying these rules.

The Department for Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.