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Travelers returning to the UK from 22 countries at risk of new Covid variants will be forced to quarantine "without exception," Boris Johnson has confirmed.
The prime minister said the measures would apply to all UK citizens and residents returning to the country from & # 39; high-risk & # 39; destinations including South Africa, Portugal and South American countries.
Mr Johnson informed MPs about the coronavirus situation in the UK and said returning travelers would be met at the airport and transported directly to the facilities, which he confirmed would include hotels.
"We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where it poses a risk to known variants, including South Africa, Portugal and South American countries," he said.
“And in order to reduce the risk of UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all these arrivals that cannot be refused to be isolated for ten days in government-provided accommodation , such as hotels, exception.
"They will be picked up at the airport and immediately quarantined. The Ministry of Health and Social Care is working to set up these facilities as soon as possible."
Mr Johnson said further details would be outlined later in the day by Home Secretary Priti Patel, but confirmed that those caught leaving the country for vacations or other leisure purposes would be sent home.
All travel corridors have already been closed due to concerns about new variants discovered in Brazil and South Africa, with anyone planning to travel to the UK expected to have taken proof of a negative Covid test no later than 72 hours before departure .
Health Minister Matt Hancock said earlier that he is increasingly concerned about as yet unknown variants, which could undermine vaccination efforts.
Mr Johnson said there would be further consultations with leaders in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure the plans are followed "where possible" across the country.
But in a statement ahead of the announcement, Scotland's prime minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the plans did not go "far enough".
She said, "I think I have a duty at this point to say that I am concerned that the proposal will not go far enough, and I have made that point very clear in the four-country talks we have just had.
"We will urgently try to persuade them to go much further and indeed move to a comprehensive system of controlled quarantine."
Meanwhile, the bosses of British Airways, EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic wrote a joint letter to the Prime Minister saying they had seen "no compelling evidence" to support the plans.
"Policies must be based on evidence and we have not seen any compelling scientific evidence that the implementation of a policy that could potentially implement general quarantine in hotels is necessary in addition to measures that have only recently been introduced," they wrote.
"We ask for the opportunity to urgently discuss both an exit plan and a tailor-made support package with you …"