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Anyone caught breaking the UK's coronavirus border measures could be handed a 10-year prison sentence, Matt Hancock has warned.
The Health Secretary has announced new plans to introduce the strict penalties, which include hefty fines for anyone entering the country and refusing to get a coronavirus test.
There will be a new £1,000 fine issued to anyone found failing to take the mandatory test and a £2,000 penalty for failing to take a second mandatory test – also automatically extending quarantine to 14 days.
There will then be a £5,000 fine, rising to £10,000, for failing to quarantine in a designated hotel.
Mr Hancock added that anyone who lies on the "passenger locator form" and tries to conceal they have been in one of 33 "red list" countries in the last 10 days could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
He told the Commons: “People who flout these rules are putting us all at risk.
“Passenger carriers will have a duty in law to make sure that passengers have signed up for these new arrangements before they travel, and will be fined if they don’t, and we will be putting in place tough fines for people who don’t comply.
“This includes a £1,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test, a £2,000 penalty for any international arrival who fails to take the second mandatory test, as well as automatically extending their quarantine period to 14 days, and a £5,000 fixed penalty notice – rising to £10,000 – for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel.”
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He added: “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.”
Mr Hancock said the measures will be put into law this week and more resources will be available to enforce them, adding: “I make no apologies for the strength of these measures because we’re dealing with one of the strongest threats to our public health that we’ve faced as a nation.”
The Health Secretary added that tests will have to be booked before passengers travel.
He said: "We're strengthening testing. All passengers are already required to take a pre-departure test and cannot travel to this country if (the test) is positive.
"From Monday, all international arrivals, whether under home quarantine or hotel quarantine, will be required by law to take further PCR tests on day two and day eight of that quarantine.
"Passengers will have to book these tests through our online booking portal before they travel. Anyone planning to travel to the UK from Monday needs to book these tests and the online portal will go live on Thursday.
"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 and will of course be offered any NHS treatment that's necessary.
"Any positive test will automatically undergo genomic sequencing to confirm whether they have a variant of concern."
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