UK's hotel quarantine booking site crashes

·1-min read

Britain's new system for booking a room in its mandatory hotel quarantine scheme has been taken offline shortly after it launched.

The government said on Tuesday it would require passengers arriving from countries where worrying coronavirus variants are spreading to pay for 10 days of quarantine in hotels, while rule-breakers would face heavy fines or jail terms, under tighter restrictions from next week.

The new travel rules add to restrictions that already ban Britons from travelling abroad for holidays. The government said the stronger measures were needed to prevent new variants of the virus from thwarting Britain's rapid vaccination program.

However, the booking portal for the quarantine scheme was removed just hours after it launched on Thursday, which a government website said was due to "a minor technical issue".

Britain's health department did not have an immediate comment.

The opposition Labour Party's home affairs spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds called on the government to urgently fix the portal.

"It is extremely worrying that even the limited hotel quarantine booking system is showing signs of failing from the outset," he said.