Police officers based at Bristol Airport are stopping passengers and checking if their journeys are essential after the government made it illegal to go on holiday abroad.
Under Covid-19 restrictions, people must stay at home and must not travel without a legally permitted reason.
It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes, UK Government guidelines state.
Officers from Avon and Somerset Police at Bristol Airport have been speaking to members of the public about their journey.
Officers at Bristol Airport have been stopping passengers and checking that their journeys are essential (pictured)
The Avon and Somerset officers have been stopping people inside the airport and asking them what they are travelling for, after the Government made it illegal to travel without a legally permitted reason
Under UK Government guidelines it is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes. Pictured: Police stop passengers in Bristol Airport
It comes as ministers were forced to defend the decision to delay the hotel quarantine scheme for another ten days after it emerged travellers to the UK face security guards on every floor and cleaning their own toilet.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly insisted the dramatic scheme was taking ‘time to prepare’, despite nearly three weeks having passed since it was first announced and facing mounting pressure from the Labour party to introduce hotel quarantine for all UK foreign arrivals.
Arrivals will have to stay in hotels for 11 nights at a cost of up to £1,000 per person, with the arrangements – the responsibility of Health Secretary Matt Hancock – lasting until at least March 31.
The scheme is expected to finally go ahead on February 15, meanwhile the Government is racing to reserve 28,000 hotel rooms across the UK after it was accused of ‘dithering’ on the issue.
The latest efforts from Avon and Somerset Police come as the Government announced its hotel quarantine scheme would be delayed by another ten days
Despite the hotel scheme being discussed three weeks ago, it is still not yet in place but Foreign Office minister James Cleverly insisted it was taking ‘time to prepare’. Pictured: An officer stops a passenger at Bristol Airport
Once in place, arrivals will have to stay in hotels for 11 nights at a cost of up to £1,000 per person. Pictured: Officers at Bristol Airport
Force inspector Chris Gresswell said the officers (pictured at Bristol Airport) are not there to catch people out and explained ‘enforcement is one of a number of options that are available to officers’
Inspector Chris Gresswell said the main message being spread by officers at Bristol Airport is telling people to ‘only travel if essential’.
He said people should look on the Government website if they are unsure whether they are allowed to travel.
Those coming into Bristol Airport are likely to see police officers and be spoken to by them, Mr Gresswell said.
‘The purpose of that is for us to engage with passengers and to make sure that people understand the regulations,’ he added.
‘We are not looking to trip people up and enforcement is one of a number of options that are available to officers.
‘We are looking to engage, explain and encourage people. That’s what we are trying to achieve.’
Britain’s hotel quarantine scheme will finally begin on February 15 – nearly three weeks after it was first announced
‘We want people to make the right decision and adhere to the restrictions,’ Mr Gresswell said.
‘In the vast majority of circumstances, that’s what people are trying to do.
‘There will be circumstances where someone is travelling because of a misunderstanding and we would encourage them to return home and observe the regulations.’
He added that it is not unusual to have police at Bristol Airport.
Ministers plan ‘vaccine passports’ in boost for summer holidays
Ministers are believed to be thrashing out plans for ‘vaccine passports’.
The Times reports that documents could be provided for British holidaymakers to prove they have been inoculated against coronavirus.
It comes after several European countries including Greece, Spain, Malta and Denmark have signalled support for such a plan.
The Foreign Office, the Department for Transport and The Department for Health and Social Care are said to be working on a range of measures to enable a return to foreign travel – including the certificates to prove tourists have received a jab.
Cycles of lockdown has largely put paid to overseas leisure trips
But Government officials are reportedly in talks with Athens about the prospect of tourists heading to Greece this summer.
Before the pandemic, officers were at the site to provide reassurance and engage with passengers. ‘That’s exactly what we are doing now,’ he said.
Reports suggest officials are planning to accommodate 1,425 passengers a day from ‘red list’ countries when the hotel scheme finally gets up and running.
Travel is already banned from the current roster of 33 hotspot countries, so primarily those affected will be Britons returning to the UK.
The taxpayer will initially foot the bill – estimated at around £50million a month – before trying to claw the money back from the arrivals.
One source told MailOnline they were confident of recouping the funds, suggesting credit card details could be taken.
The hotels are expected to have ‘Government-approved’ security staff on every floor to ensure people do not leave rooms, and smokers will need to be escorted outside.
Three meals a day with fruit and water will be delivered to the door, with hot and cold options available.
Tea and coffee will be available in the room, but guests are expected to clean their bathrooms and change their own sheets. Some hotels have suggested they will provide yoga mats to help people exercise and de-stress during their detention.
Labour pointed out the measures will come nearly two months after the South African Covid strain was discovered in the UK and was ‘too little too late’ – repeating calls for a blanket quarantine policy on all travellers, rather than just ‘red list’ countries.
But Mr Cleverly said minister ‘need time to prepare’ a complex system and a blanket approach was not appropriate. ‘We need time to make sure this works,’ he said in a round of interviews.
In preparation for the future and in a bid to give the tourism industry a much-needed boost, the government is drawing up plans for ‘vaccine passports’ which will allow Britons to prove they have been vaccinated.