No hotel quarantine contracts have been signed with just one week to go until launch
The government has not signed a single contract with any hotel firms despite its mandatory hotel quarantine policy set to come into effect in just one week’s time.
All arrivals to the UK from around 30 “red list” countries will be required by law to quarantine for 10 nights at a government-selected hotel from 15 February.
However, ministers have faced a deluge of criticism over sluggish progress on the plans, amid fears the UK will continue to see the arrival of emerging Covid mutations from abroad as long as the policy is delayed.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, on Friday slammed the scheme as “half-baked”, warning that the delay was “putting people at risk”.
Ministers expect that more than 1,000 British residents will return each day from places at risk of carrying emerging Covid variants. The Telegraph reported last week that the government was “racing to reserve 28,000 hotel rooms across the UK by 5pm” last Friday.
However, Downing Street admitted this afternoon that the government has not signed a single contract with hotel firms ahead of the proposed launch date next Monday.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Department of Health issued a commercial specification to hotels near ports and airports.
“This asked for proposals on how they could deliver managed quarantine facilities. No formal contracts have been awarded yet.”
The spokesperson added that the health department would provide updates over the coming week as it “continues to work closely with hotels” .
The cost for each British citizen forced to quarantine at a government-selected hotel room is understood to be around £80 per person per night.
It is expected the government will pay the estimated £55m total bill up front and attempt to recoup the money from passengers at a later date.
But hotel chiefs have said there has been “no dialogue” with the government, and warned that they will need more time than the current seven-day notice period until the scheme comes into place.
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Meher Nawab, the chief executive of London Hotel Group, told BBC Breakfast: “There has been no open dialogue between the hospitality sector and the government.”
“There is a lot of training to go into this, a lot of health protocols as well, and actually the insurance has to be approved. If you want to do something properly, and the amount of due diligence and protocol that has to go into place, it takes a long time.”