The UK government said travellers arriving from COVID-19 hotspots, including South Africa, could be fined £10,000 (R202 945,89) and face jail sentences of up to 10 years if they flout the series of stringent measures Britain has put in place to prevent new variants from entering the country.

The harshest punishment is reserved for individuals who lie about their travel history and hide recent trips to “red list” countries even if they were just stopovers, according to The Guardian.

UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock announced that people who arrive from the 33 high-risk countries would have to quarantine in government-designated hotels for 10 days, which could cost travellers up to £1 750 (R35 515,53).

Hancock added that international travellers would have to undergo an “enhanced testing” regime consisting of two PCR tests during the quarantine period from Monday, February 15. Anyone arriving after this date will need to be tested on days two and eight after isolating upon arrival.

International arrivals who do not take the mandatory test will be liable for a £1000 (R20 294,59) fine. The fine for failing to quarantine in the designated hotel could range between £5000 (R101 472,95) and £10 000.

“People will need to remain in their rooms and of course will not be allowed to mix with other guests and there will be visible security in place to ensure compliance alongside necessary support,” said Hancock.

“So even as we protect public health we can look after the people in our care. People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.”

South Africa is joined on the “red list” by most of South America, southern Africa, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.

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