Only 1% of people arriving in the UK every day are required to quarantine in government-approved hotels, the Border Force director has revealed.
Speaking to the Commons home affairs committee on Wednesday, Paul Lincoln said “about” 14,000 or 15,000 people were coming into the country per day, which was “95% down” on the usual number for this time of year.
From February 15, people arriving from 33 “red list” countries including Portugal and South Africa have had to spend 10 days in isolation in hotels.
Lincoln said on average 150 people per day were being placed into the facilities.
Arrivals who are not required to quarantine in hotels must self-isolate at home. Lincoln told MPs the compliance with home isolation was “at least 85%”.
Amid concerns about new variants of Covid being imported into the UK, the Border Force director said the number of people arriving with coronavirus was “substantially lower” than 0.5% of the domestic case rate.
But Lincoln was unable to give a precise figure, saying Public Health England (PHE) would be publishing the number “in due course”.
Committee chair and Labour MP Yvette Cooper said the figures showed there was a “very leaky system” of quarantine.
Under England’s current national lockdown, international travel is illegal apart from in some limited circumstances.
But Boris Johnson’s roadmap for lifting the restrictions, announced on Monday, could see international travel could start as early as May 17.
It would need to be approved by a new “Global Travel Taskforce” that is being set up by the government to assess the risk of importing new variants of the virus from overseas.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, told the committee on Tuesday it was “far too early” for people to book holidays abroad.