On February 9, 2021, the United Kingdom said it would impose tighter travel restrictions for passengers arriving to the country from the “red list” regions, where new COVID-19 variants are registered. However, tighter travel restrictions might further harm already cash-strapped airlines and airports.

Under the new travel rules, the UK and Irish passengers, who have visited the “red list” countries, would need to undergo a 10-day quarantine in a hotel beginning from February 15, 2021. The quarantine rule-breakers could be sent to jail for up to 10 years and fined up to 10,000 pounds ($13,836).

“Anyone who lies on the passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they’ve been in a country on the ‘red list’ in the 10 days before arrival here, will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years,” Health Secretary of the United Kingdom Matt Hancock told the Parliament.

In addition to the pre-departure test, all travelers arriving to the UK will also have to take further COVID-19 tests on the second and the eighth days of their self-isolation. For those who have no residence rights in the UK and visited one of the "red list" countries in the previous 10 days, entry to the UK will be denied.

On the same day, British airlines and airports demanded urgent help amid new travel restrictions, as hopes for a return to normal faded, according to UK aviation industry bodies. 

In a joint press release, Karen Dee, the Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, and Chief Executive of Airlines UK Tim Alderslade said that tightened travel restrictions further barrier the industry from the viable restart.

“In the meantime, airports and airlines are battling to survive with almost zero revenue and a huge cost base, and practically every week a further blow lands. Aviation-specific financial support is urgently needed to ensure our sector can get through the year,” the joint statement read.