All travellers entering the UK to take TWO Covid tests during 10-day quarantine – to stop new variants

ALL travellers entering the UK will have to take two coronavirus tests during their self-isolation with the new restrictions to be announced later today.

The new measures are the latest attempt by the government to prevent mutant strains of Covid entering the country.

It is expected that people isolating either at home or a hotel will be told they must get a test two and eight days into their 10-day quarantine period.

It comes after it was confirmed last week that UK nationals returning from 33 "red list" countries would be required to quarantine in closely monitored government-designated hotels, predicted to be in place from January 15.

The Test and Release scheme, which allows travellers to leave quarantine on day five with a second coronavirus test will remain in place, but will still need a test on day eight as well although how this will be enforced is yet to be explained.

Travellers will have to take a PCR test each, which can cost as much as £120 – making a family holiday much more expensive.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the move was designed to provide a "further level of protection" enabling the authorities to track new cases more effectively.

A DHSC spokesman said: "Throughout the pandemic, the Government has put in place proportionate measures, informed by the advice of scientists, that have led to some of the toughest border regimes in the world.

"Enhancing our testing regime to cover all arrivals while they isolate will provide a further level of protection and enable us to better track any new cases which might be brought into the country, and give us even more opportunities to detect new variants."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to issue an update later today.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News that there was a "case for doing some testing" while quarantining.

H explained: "We already have a provision so they can test to release from quarantine earlier, and we’re obviously looking at this to see if we can strengthen these measures further.

"It is a subject that’s being discussed at the moment within Government – we don’t rule out things like post-quarantine or during quarantine testing."

Professor David Heymann, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, also said that testing people on arrival was "effective" as it isolated cases and reduced transmission.

PC Agency's Paul Charles praised new testing measures, explaining that testing is the "way out of the pandemic" along with vaccines.

However, he also said on BBC's Today programme: "If passengers are asked to a pay for three tests – because you have to take a test before you depart for the UK – that will obviously kill off travel.

"What is important is for government to be paying for these extra two tests, and one of them should be on arrival at port of entry to the UK, at the airport or the ferry terminal.

"That is where you are going to capture most possible infections coming in.

"There are some 200 changes of travel restrictions every day around the world at the moment. It's becoming more and more complex for travellers to understand, wherever they are going, what the policies are going to be."

New rules on hotel quarantine are due to come into force on next week – although the Government has yet to announce any agreement with any of hotel chains on providing accommodation.

On Monday the Prime Minister's official spokesman said no formal contracts had yet been awarded after the Government issued commercial specifications last Thursday.

However the Financial Times reported that ministers were said to be close to signing up a series of hotels near Heathrow, and were optimistic of agreeing deals with others around Manchester, Gatwick, Birmingham and London City airports.

Travelodge bosses say the chain won't be involved in the scheme although Accor – which owns the Ibis, Novotel and Mercure brands – suggested it may take part, along with the St Giles Hotel Group and Thistle Hotels, it's reported.

Passengers arriving from the high-risk countries will have to quarantine for 10 days at the hotels at their own expense, which could cost as much as £800 per person.

Here is what it is like to self-isolate at a quarantine hotel.

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