Covid: What to do if you cannot afford hotel quarantine

Visiting a ‘red list’ country imposes expensive managed hotel quarantine; the UK government offers financial support to those who cannot afford the restrictive price tag.

While the foreign travel rules in the UK are about to see another major overhaul, there is still no respite in sight for travellers visiting countries on the red list when it comes to safety restrictions.

The traffic light travel system is set to be scrapped in the first week of October 2021 in favour of a simpler two-tier system with a major focus on the vaccination status of travellers. The amber and green lists of countries will merge to form a single category, but the red list, albeit to be shortened, will remain.

Travelling to ‘non-red list’ countries

If visitors to ‘non-red list’ countries are fully vaccinated, they need only take:

Fully vaccinated travellers are not legally obligated to observe any post-return quarantine unless their Day 2 PCR test comes back positive for COVID-19.

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers going to ‘non-red list’ countries, on the other hand, must do the following:

  • Take a pre-travel COVID-19 test before departing from the UK (PCR test or Antigen test depending on the destination)
  • Take an antigen test 72 hours before returning to the UK (in some cases, only PCR tests will be accepted)
  • Quarantine for 10 days after arriving in the UK
  • Take Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests

Travelling to ‘red list’ countries

The rules for visiting countries on the ‘red list’ will continue to be the same as before the new changes. These rules will be the same for all travellers, regardless of their vaccination status. They are as follows:

  • Travellers must take a pre-departure COVID-19 test before leaving the UK
  • They must also take another COVID-19 test before returning to the UK
  • Completing a passenger locator form is mandatory
  • After arriving in the UK, travellers must self-isolate for 10 days (11 nights) in a government-approved hotel
Woman Wearing a Facemask Sitting in an Airplane

Hotel quarantine for ‘red list’ country returnees

Travelling to a ‘red list’ country means you must make arrangements and pay for hotel quarantine beforehand via the UK government’s website.

Only British nationals, Irish nationals, and people who have UK residence rights are allowed to enter the UK after being in a ‘red list’ country 10 days prior to travel.

If anyone who is required to undergo the 10-day self-isolation period in a managed quarantine hotel fails to follow the quarantine rules, risk a penalty of up to £10,000.

The rates of payment for self-isolating in a quarantine hotel:

  • £2,285 for 1 adult for 10 days
  • £1,430 additional for accompanying adults or children over 11 years of age
  • £325 additional for accompanying children aged between 5 to 11 years

How to receive the government’s financial support for managed hotel quarantine?

The government has set up hardship arrangements for ‘red list’ country visitors ‘who will suffer severe financial hardship’ after paying the full costs of hotel quarantine and travel testing fees.

If you qualify for hardship arrangements, you may be given a repayment plan with monthly instalments. In rare circumstances, extremely restricted cases may even be offered a reduction in fees or a full waiver.

Eligibility criteria

The financial support is only available to UK citizens and people who have residency rights in the UK. Additionally, the visit to the ‘red list’ country must be for an essential reason: work, education, urgent medical treatment, or visiting dying or critically ill family members.

In addition to the above points being true, you may be eligible for hardship arrangements if at least one of the following applies for you:

  • Your household income is under £13,800
  • Your household (including yourself) has limited or no savings
  • There are dependants you care for which results in significant expenses
  • You receive income-related benefits
  • You are on a fixed income and above state pension age

If you qualify, you must apply for hardship arrangements a minimum of 14 days before your arrival in the UK.

How to apply

If you are applying before 9 October 2021, please call Corporate Travel Management (CTM) on +44(0)2074299983.

If you plan on applying on 9 October 2021 or after, you must fill in this form.


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