UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced tough fines and jail terms up to 10 years for breaching quarantine rules imposed in an effort to prevent the new coronavirus variants from entering the country.
Hancock told lawmakers in the House of Commons on Tuesday that there will be fines between 5,000 pounds ($6,890) and 10,000 pounds ($13,780) for failing to quarantine in a designated hotel, reports Xinhua news agency.
Anyone who lies on their passenger locator form about having been in a country on "the red list", will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years, he added.
The Health Secretary also announced that from February 15 onwards, all international arrivals will be required by law to take additional coronavirus tests on day two and day eight of their quarantine.
"If either of these post-arrival tests comes back positive they'll have to quarantine for a further 10 days from the date of the test," he said.
Hancock further announced that a fine of 1,000 pounds ($1,378) will be imposed on any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory coronavirus test, and a fine of 2,000 pounds ($2,756) for failing to take a second test.
Meanwhile, from February 15, arrivals from "red list countries" must pay 1,750 pounds ($2,411) for their own hotel quarantine, transport and testing, said Hancock.
The government has secured 4,600 hotel rooms and are working on getting more, he said.
"We must strengthen our defenses" further and responding to new strains is "mission critical", he added.
The latest development came amid rising concerns over the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa.
A trial has found the Oxford vaccine had limited efficacy against mild disease from the variant.
England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.