Today it was revealed that red list country families are being separated and placed in quarantine at hotels 100 miles apart to allow them to travel back to Britain.

Parents have had to leave their children due to a lack of rooms in London for return travellers. The Government is working to improve capacity.

After the recent expansion of the red List to eleven countries, government officials now have the ability to double the numbers of available quarantine rooms.

Sheffield families returning from South Africa were forced to separate with the mother and the six-year-old boy with the father.

They were told they could not all stay in one double room and instead had to pay for two rooms which will cost them more than £4,500, reported The Times.

The London Gatwick hotel is one and Milton Keynes the other. Olivia Blake, Olivia Blake’s MP, said that the situation was ‘ridiculous and she had other examples.

The hotels cost £2,285 for 11 nights for one adult in one room, then £1,430 for an extra adult or child over 11, and £325 for a child aged 5 to 11. All children under 5 years of age are welcome.

Janine Akers (66), the grandmother of the boy, said yesterday to The Times: “They haven’t yet told their son and I don’t know what stress will be for him when he is told.

Passengers queuing for a Covid-19 test in the arrivals area of London Gatwick Airport today

Today, passengers waited in line for their Covid-19 tests at London Gatwick Airport’s arrivals.

A quarantine room at the Holiday Inn Express at Heathrow Terminal 4, pictured this week

This week, a quarantine room in the Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 is pictured

“They couldn’t refuse to book the rooms they wanted. They could have been left stranded at Christmas if they didn’t.”

She said that they were about £6,000 out of pocket after they also had to defer their flights for £250 and find additional accommodation in South Africa for £600.

Q&A: What are the new travel rules for Britons?

Are there any new rules for travel?

From 4am today, everyone over 12 travelling to the UK needs to have taken a pre-departure test – either lateral flow or PCR – to prove they don’t have Covid-19. For those not vaccinated, the test must be taken.

How do I handle a positive test from overseas?

Britons are encouraged to call the British consulate and embassy for help. The quarantine regulations in the country will apply to you. The quarantine period will include a stay in an approved facility or hotel at your cost, and could be up to several hundred dollars. Any medical treatment will be covered by you. If you are negative for the test, you may be able to return home but need to fund a second flight.

How do I get home safely?

The day-two test is for returning travellers only. The PCR test must be booked prior to you depart and purchased privately through a government-approved vendor. You will need to self-isolate your results until they are negative.

Consider travel insurance.

Coronavirus coverage is available on some policies such as the ones offered by Post Office. It will cover trip cancellation, curtailment and international medical and repatriation expenses.

Can I cancel? a foreign trip?

The law doesn’t allow you to get a refund. Most tour companies and airlines offer a coupon to allow you to rebook later.

Are there any countries that are not on the red list?

Ten southern African countries were added to the UK’s travel red list because of Omicron – South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. Nigeria was included as of yesterday.

Which travel guidelines apply to red-list countries?

For holidays, you should avoid red-list countries. Red list countries must have a pre-departure check and be subject to a quarantine in a hotel. A test will take place on day 2 or 8. Quarantine currently costs £2,285 for a single adult and £1,430 for a second adult.

The next steps?

These temporary measures are taken to stop Omicron-related cases entering the UK. The three-weekly review point will examine them on December 20.

MailOnline was informed by a Government spokesperson that the quarantine measures in place were designed to minimize the possibility of new variants entering the UK. They also protect the hard-earned progress made through our vaccine program.

“The Managed Quarantine Service has been a success with most passengers. We aim to maintain families together. We advise our guests to first speak with the hotel staff if they have any questions.

Whitehall sources stated that extended family members would have to be separated in rooms.

According to them, they didn’t know of any family being booked in different hotels. The goal was to keep all families together during booking.

Sajid Javid has resisted the demands of travel companies to be compensated yesterday. Instead, he insists that Omicron was a new variant and therefore needed additional restrictions.

Ministers had insisted that they weren’t necessary, but the Health Secretary has defended the use of pre-departure tests for travel. These were put into place today.

Pre-departure testing could be more effective in finding positive cases for travelers, because there is new evidence that Omicron has a narrower window of opportunity to detect infection.

Mr. Javid stated that he fully understood the effects on the travel industry, and added: ‘This enormously important sector of the economy is being hit again.

He dodged repeated questions regarding whether additional financial support would be provided by the government for the sector, still recovering from repeated lockdowns over the past two years.

Yesterday’s travel industry leaders accused the government for over-reacting.

Julia Lo Bue­Said, the chief executive officer of Advantage Travel Partnership, described the abrupt changes in the rules as a ‘fatal bullet for many travel agencies’.

She declared, “Once again we’re at the mercy a Government that can’t communicate with us.”

Sean Doyle is the chairman of British Airways and the chief executive of British Airways. He stated that the UK’s blanket reintroduction of testing upon entry, in addition to its current system of isolation and PCR testing at arrival, was completely inconsistent with what the rest of world has done. All other countries have taken a more measured approach, based on science.

“Our customers now face uncertainty and chaos, and this is a terrible blow to everyone working in the travel industry.”

ABTA is a trade association representing the travel industry. It stated that the reintroduction pre-departure testing will cause a major blow to travelers and an already devasted industry. This sector has been one of the most affected by the crisis, and it is fast approaching its key booking season next summer.

Food provided to a couple in quarantine at the Holiday Inn Express at Heathrow this week

A couple staying at Holiday Inn Express Heathrow was provided with food this week

Food provided to a couple in quarantine at the Holiday Inn Express at Heathrow this week

A couple staying at Holiday Inn Express Heathrow was provided with food this week

“While it has been our position that public health should be the top priority, we now need to see the government take action in order to protect jobs and companies.

Quarantine hotel prices for passengers 

Below are prices for quarantine hotels that must be paid by those who return from countries on the red list. 

  • For 10 days and 11 nights, 1 adult can stay in one room. – £2,285
  • Extra rate for one adult or child above 11 years old – £1,430
  • Extra rate available for children aged between 5 and 11 years. – £325
  • Under 5 Years of AgeFree! 

The price includes transport to and from the hotel; accommodation, food and drink for the whole of the stay; and any Covid-19 tests which need to be taken during the quarantine period.

“The sector needs financial support. These measures significantly reduce demand. Therefore, the Chancellor must consider reintroducing furlough to the travel industry. To avoid more job losses.

“Travellers should also be supported by measures to offset these extra tests, including the reduction of the cost for PCR testing. This includes a price cap as well as the elimination of VAT.

“It is vital that this decision be reversed quickly, according to scientific and medical advice. It is impossible for the travel industry’s recovery to take place while there is a huge barrier to consumer trust.”

Tim Alderslade (CEO of Airlines UK) stated: “It’s premature to hit millions in passengers and the industry before we have all of the data. There is no clinical evidence.

“The red listing extension made perfect sense. That’s what it was there for. But, as we’ve seen from our experience, blanket restrictions are not effective in stopping the import of variants. This is already happening.

“They have now updated their travel advice twice in a week, and it is impossible for anyone else to plan. 

“The booster programme must speed up the removal of these measures. 

Thomas Cook explained that: “We understand our customers desire to be safe and will work with every customer booked over the coming weeks to explain the new testing requirements. 


“We also work to arrange customers holidays wherever we can, if they decide to move later.”

How many countries do you see on Britain’s red list of 11?









South Africa



Gary Lewis is chief executive at The Travel Network Group. It represents more than 1,200 UK-based travel businesses. He criticized the proposed changes.

He explained that Covid’s latest travel announcements were a punch to the stomach of the travel industry at a time when we are approaching the Christmas season, ski season, as well as the traditional January vacation booking peak.

“The Travel Industry has taken on large debts to support customers through this crisis. They have not made any profit due to cancellations and refunds.

“We are asking the government for financial support in order to protect our survival from these announcements. Financial support in the form of direct financial assistance, delayed repayment of debts, HMRC liability deferral, HMRC obligations deferred, HMRC grants to agents that are involved with customer discussions.

“The government should immediately provide free, quick access PCR testing for travelers and end the massive costs of quarantine at hotels by simply making track and trace possible to enable home quarantine for red list country arrivals.

It comes as rogue firms are taking advantage of new travel rules to advertise expensive PCR tests for as little as 30p – only to sting families with sky-high fees.

Revisions have mandated that all UK visitors must pass a PCR test in the first two days. Not just the less expensive lateral flow test. Because PCR can detect variants like Omicron, this is important.

The Government-approved companies have promoted the lowest prices to be found in search engines. 

But once travellers click through to the website they can get caught out by ‘fees’ of £59 or more. Just yesterday firms were offering PCR tests for £15, which then came with a fee of £79. It could leave a family of four facing a bill of £376.

The issue has arisen because, although in theory travellers can get self-swab tests for just £15, there are very few available.

Experts have urged Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, and the Competition and Markets Authority watchdogs (CMA), to take action.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: ‘The Government’s official list of PCR test providers is still rife with companies promoting misleading prices and we are yet to see any meaningful action from the CMA’s audit of the private testing system.’

The CMA recently sent letters to 25 PCR providers, warning them to review their terms and conditions – or face action.