No quarantine hotel rooms available for day new rules come into force

11 February 2021, 15:18 | Updated: 11 February 2021, 16:51

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

No quarantine hotel rooms are available on Monday - when the new rules come into force - at seven out of the eight airports which have signed up to the scheme.

The government's new booking portal for all "high-risk" arrivals appears to have been launched on Thursday with a number of technical problems.

New rules for UK arrivals, meaning they must stay in quarantine hotels, come into effect on Monday 15 February.

However, only one airport - Edinburgh - seems to have any rooms available from that date.

The portal is currently unable to offer hotel bookings at London's Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports, as well as Birmingham, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Farnborough until Wednesday 17 February.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the development is "extremely worrying".

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"Over a year into this pandemic and 50 days from the discovery of the South African strain, there are no excuses for yet more Government incompetence in the introduction of hotel quarantine," he wrote on Twitter.

"Ministers must fix this-urgently."

It is unclear if the issue with bookings for Monday is down to there not being enough rooms available or whether there is an issue with the portal itself.

Another concern includes the number of nights available for an individual to book.

Ministers had previously stated reservations would be up to 10 nights. However, the portal says bookings can be made for 11 nights (10 full days).

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A previous government press release, which is still on the government's Department of Health website, said the cost for a single adult would be less than £1,750.

However, when booking for a single adult, it is now asking for exactly £1,750.

The portal crashed shortly after going live "due to a minor technical issue", a message on the government's website said, and "the link to the booking portal in this guidance will not be available until later today".

LBC's Westminster Correspondent said: "Several teething problems there - the most concerning to ministers, I think, will be the fact that people due to arrive in the country on Monday from Heathrow seem unable at the moment to book a room."

A hotel industry source reportedly told ITV: “Complete farce for hotels involved and travellers trying to get home. Shambles.”

Some people have reported being unable to access the portal at all.

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