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Britain's hotel quarantine booking system crashes after launch

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Staff are seen at an Easy Jet checking area at Gatwick Airport, as travel restrictions are eased following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Gatwick, Britain July 10, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Britain's new system for booking a room in its mandatory hotel quarantine scheme was on Thursday taken offline shortly after it launched.

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

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 programme.

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However, the booking portal for the quarantine scheme was removed just hours after it launched, 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.

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Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Toby Chopra

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