PASSENGERS arriving in the UK will have to take two Covid tests during their 10-day isolation – even if they're allowed to quarantine at home, rather than at a hotel.
The plans were revealed as the country toughens up its borders amid fears over vaccine-busting mutations of the virus.
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People arriving from 'red list' countries will have to spend a week and a half under guard in hotels.
But even those coming in from other, safer locations will now be tested twice during their mandatory isolation.
The proposals will be introduced on February 15 – the same date hotel quarantines will come into force.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Throughout the pandemic, the Government has put in place proportionate measures, informed by the advice of scientists, that have led to some of the toughest border regimes in the world.
"Enhancing our testing regime to cover all arrivals while they isolate will provide a further level of protection and enable us to better track any new cases which might be brought into the country, and give us even more opportunities to detect new variants."
A formal announcement could come as early as Tuesday when Health Secretary Matt Hancock updates MPs in a Commons statement on the pandemic.
It comes as the Government scrambles to reserve 28,000 hotel rooms for the 1,500 passengers expected to arrive every day from 33 countries.
The scheme will roll out this month – and last until at least March 31.
Under the plans, guards will be stationed on every floor of the hotels involved, as well as at entrances and exits.
Three meals a day will be delivered to the door, and guests will be expected to clean up after themselves by cleaning bathrooms and changing their own sheets.
Smokers will also be escorted outside.
Travellers must be tested twice during their isolation.
Most of those forced to quarantine are likely to be Brits – as travel is already banned for countries on the red list.
However, it's now been revealed that citizens returning home from any other country will also be told to test themselves with PCR kits on two separate occasions.
Details of the plan will be revealed next week.
But the quarantine scheme is already descending into chaos, with hoteliers claiming they've been left little time to prepare.
Passengers are expected to be ferried to hotels by bus – but coach companies say they've not been consulted.
A system so travellers can book rooms ahead of their arrival in the UK also hasn't yet been launched.
Hotels participating in the scheme must have rooms that can be properly ventilated and air conditioning systems that do not re-circulate air, it's reported.
All existing bookings must be cancelled as hotels must be used exclusively for quarantines.
Travelodge bosses say the chain won't be involved in the scheme.
However, Accor – which owns the Ibis, Novotel and Mercure brands – suggested it may take part, along with the St Giles Hotel Group and Thistle Hotels, it's reported.
One London hotel manager told the Guardian: “I just don’t think we could work on that budget.
"Also, because we have stayed open we would have to cancel all the business we have got on our books.
"The tender is only for six weeks, so it doesn’t seem like the right decision."
Hotels near airports, ferry ports and the Eurostar terminal are particularly sought after.
It's understood the Government will contract and pay hotels upfront, before travellers reimburse the costs afterwards.
Elsewhere, cops have been seen patrolling Bristol Airport today after hols were banned under the latest lockdown.
And ministers are reportedly thrashing out plans for 'vaccine passports', the Times reports.
It's understood the documents could be provided for British holidaymakers to prove they have been inoculated against coronavirus.
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