The UK has been less strict than many of its European neighbors in controlling travel throughout the pandemic. In a statement to Parliament today (Jan. 27), home secretary Priti Patel said the new rules are necessary because “there are still too many people coming in and out of our country each day.” The tightened restrictions will also require police to conduct more in-person checks on those meant to be self-isolating, and to patrol ports of entry to send people who are violating restrictions home.

Coronavirus deaths in the UK recently crossed a grim milestone of 100,000, the highest in Europe, and there’s some evidence that too many people in the country are flouting rules around self-isolation, social distancing, and quarantining. A pre-print of a study conducted by a post-doctoral researcher at King’s College London, which the government reviewed as part of its public health efforts, found that “self-reported adherence to test, trace, and isolate behaviors was low.” The government hopes these new measures will also help tackle that problem.

In Parliament today, Johnson said the Department of Health and Social Care will set up quarantine facilities “as quickly as possible.” The government is likely to rely on hotels that are close to airports and train stations, and to charge travelers a fee of around £1,000 ($1,368) for a 10-day stay.

Despite the new restrictions, airlines may be breathing easier: They faced the prospect of a blanket hotel quarantine mandate for all arrivals to the UK, a move industry executives cautioned would be dramatic for them and their workers. In December 2020, more than 1.1 million passengers (and 107,180 metric tonnes of cargo) flew through London’s Heathrow Airport. That’s nowhere near the normal levels of 6 million-plus passengers, but it’s not nothing either.

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