London also orders arrivals to spend up to 10 days in self-isolation as rules righten
While the United Kingdom's COVID-19 vaccination drive gathers pace, strict new quarantine rules requiring isolation for up to 10 days for all travelers arriving in the country begin on Monday, in an effort to halt the spread of feared virus variants.
Britain's foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, told the BBC'S The Andrew Marr Showon Sunday that the measures, announced on Friday, would be enforced with fines and that authorities would be stepping up checks on travelers who must self-isolate, while enforcement checks at borders would also be "ramped up".
Passengers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours before traveling, and GPS and facial-recognition technology may be used to check that people are staying in isolation, according to a report in The Times.
Raab said that asking all arrivals to self-isolate in hotels was a "potential measure" the government was keeping under review.
Mutant viruses might be immune to the vaccines Britain has acquired, the government fears, and sources told The Times that ministers are now examining New Zealand's policy of "directed isolation", where everyone arriving is charged for a stay at an airport hotel.
It is understood that the new restrictions will remain in place for a month and follow the emergence of two new novel coronavirus variants from Brazil that have worried authorities. Flights from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde have been banned entirely.
Ten new vaccination centers are due to open in England on Monday as the vaccination drive gains momentum. This adds to seven existing mass vaccination sites across the country, along with 1,000 local surgeries and more than 250 hospitals already providing jabs.
The Telegraph has reported that government figures believe "every adult in Britain could be vaccinated by the end of June".
Senior government sources told the paper that the target "could now realistically be achieved" as they plan to vaccinate "4 to 5 million people a week" within months.
However, ministers expressed concern about the government's only official public target, to offer the jab to 14.9 million Britons by Feb 15, "due to manufacturing delays from Pfizer and AstraZeneca".
The Telegraph's source said additional vaccines from Moderna and Johnson &Johnson could help the UK speed up the process "to vaccinate all 54 million adults".
"All over-18s by June — yes," the source was quoted to have said, and added, "It is delivery, delivery, delivery".
The Department of Health and Social Care has said more than 3.5 million people have now been vaccinated in the UK, including 45 percent of those aged 80 and older in England.
Raab said if 88 percent of the most vulnerable groups have received their first jab, as intended, by mid-February, then "if we have succeeded in hitting those targets ... we can start to think about the phased transition out of the national lockdown", which would be in March.
The Times noted that ministers have said privately that they would "resist pressure" from scientists to prolong the harsh restrictions beyond that point.
The chief executive of the National Health Service, Simon Stevens, said on Sunday the vaccination effort is on course to reach 1.5 million doses by the end of this week, which would be 1 million more given than the previous week.
Speaking on the The Andrew Marr Show, Stevens said: "This is a unique event in our 72-year history, it's become glib to talk about this as the worst pandemic in a century, but that is clearly correct. We have got three-quarters more COVID-19 inpatients now then we had in the April peak."
The severe impact of the pandemic on education in the UK remains in focus after university lecturers vowed not to resume "unsafe" face-to-face teaching this academic year, The Guardian reported.
The University and College Union warned that any attempt by the government or universities to reopen campuses in February "will fail" while "staff feel it is unsafe".
Meanwhile, Reuters news agency reported that in France, a curfew to contain the spread of a more infectious variant of the virus was brought forward on Saturday, emptying streets across the nation.
The more transmissible variant, first detected in Britain, is believed to account for about 1 percent of new cases. Fatalities from the virus in France have reached 70,000, the seventh highest toll in the world.