Britons returning from up to 30 countries are expected to be forced quarantine in designated hotels in plans to be announced by the Home Secretary later today.
Included will be those flying in from countries in southern Africa and south America, where new variants of Covid-19 have been detected.
The list is also thought to include Portugal due to its links with Brazil, which has a particularly high rate of Covid infections and where a new variant of the virus was first detected.
There is already a ban on international arrivals from these countries but returning Brits will have to isolate in hotels for up to 10 days before being allowed home. It is also understood they will have to pick up the bill, which is likely to be around £1,000 to £1,500 per person.
Details of the policy are due to be announced in the House of Commons later today by Priti Patel.
But airlines are warning that extending the UK’s border controls to hotel quarantines will ‘plunge the aviation and travel industry deeper into crisis’.
British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic have written to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding ‘an urgent roadmap for the reopening of air travel’.
“It is essential that a clear set of conditions are agreed allowing for the easing of all travel restrictions. This roadmap is vital for retaining consumer confidence and securing the future of UK aviation as we approach the critical summer trading period,” they wrote.
“UK airlines cannot survive a second summer season without meaningful revenue.”
International airline body IATA questioned if the quarantine was necessary. A spokesperson told the Independent: “Coming only two weeks after the government announced further restrictions at the border, new rules on hotel quarantine will plunge the aviation and travel industry deeper into crisis.
“There are several vital questions that need to be answered.
“What is the scientific assessment of the further advantage to public health to be achieved from mandatory hotel quarantine given a flight ban is already in place?
“What economic impact assessment has been drawn up, especially for the UK’s global connectivity, the aviation industry, and vital air cargo arrivals such as vaccines?
“If ministers cannot answer these key questions, it damages public confidence that there is a coherent strategy for suppressing Covid-19 and a roadmap in place for returning to normal life.”