Four passengers at Birmingham airport were fined £10,000 for failing to declare they had travelled from a “red list” country on the first day the rules were in force.
British and Irish nationals or UK residents who have been in a country deemed a high coronavirus risk in the previous 10 days are required to book a 10-day quarantine package, costing £1,750 per adult, as the government seeks to limit the spread of new and potentially more dangerous variants arriving from abroad.
Chris Todd, the temporary assistant chief constable of West Midlands police, reportedly said on Monday that four passengers had failed to declare they had arrived from one of the 33 red list countries and had received £10,000 fines. It is unclear if West Midlands police or Border Force issued the penalties.
Travellers entering the UK are required to complete a “passenger locator form”, and lying about where they have been can lead to up to 10 years in prison. However, senior legal experts, including the former supreme court justice Jonathan Sumption and the former attorney general Dominic Grieve have criticised the maximum term for being excessive.
Details of the fines emerged after the government revealed travellers in quarantine hotels in England face an additional bill of up to £1,200 if they test positive for coronavirus during their stay.
Information published on the government’s website on Monday revealed the additional cost to the traveller if they test positive: £152 a day.
Guests are allowed to leave after 11 nights if they receive negative results from tests taken on day two and day eight of their isolation.
A positive result from the first test will extend a traveller’s stay by two nights at a cost of £304. If the second test returns a positive reading, the guest must remain in their room for an additional eight nights and pay £1,216.
Boris Johnson was asked at a Downing Street press conference on Monday what would happen if a traveller could not afford the extra fee.
He replied: “It is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays anyway. We would expect people who are coming in from one of these red list countries to be able to cover their costs.”
There are 33 countries on the government’s red list, which includes Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.
Scotland is extending the requirement to cover arrivals from any country unless they have travelled from the common travel area, which includes the UK and Ireland.
There are five airports in England at which red list arrivals can land, with the vast majority coming to London Heathrow. Gatwick, Birmingham and London City airports have said the numbers were likely to be low. Farnborough in Hampshire is also taking arrivals on private jets used for business travel.
Officials have secured 4,963 rooms at 16 hotels, with more than 50,000 extra rooms on standby amid uncertainty about the number of arrivals from red list countries.