Hotel quarantine guest gives thumbs down from her room window
It’s a ZERO star rating from me! Hotel quarantine guest gives thumbs down from her room window in Heathrow Radisson Blu – as passengers liken 10-day stay at Holiday Inn to being in ‘PRISON’
- New rules since Monday mean people arriving in England must quarantine in a hotel for ten days for £1,750
- Policy applies if travellers have been to country with high Covid risk, such as Portugal, South Africa or Brazil
- Some have likened conditions to ‘prison’ while others are being escorted outside to smoke and stroll around
- YouGov poll finds 90% of Britons are in favour of scheme, while 72% think rules should apply to all UK arrivals
A hotel quarantine guest gave a thumbs down to photographers from her room window at the Radisson Blu near Heathrow Airport today as she tried to pass the time by reading and eating toast.
New rules introduced on Monday mean people arriving in England must quarantine in a hotel for ten days at a cost of £1,750 if they have been to a country with a high Covid risk, such as Portugal or Brazil.
But some have likened the conditions they are living in to a ‘prison’, while others are being escorted outside to smoke, stroll around and sit on benches to make phone calls as much as they like with no time limit.
Meanwhile a YouGov poll has found 90 per cent of Britons are in favour of the quarantine scheme, while 72 per cent thought the rules should apply to all arrivals, not just those from the 33 countries on the UK’s ‘red list’.
The woman at the Radisson Blu was photographed looking out at the wet weather from her window, reading a Portuguese book on alternative medicine and drinking from a mug while holding a piece of toast.
Another Radisson Blu guest held up a message on his laptop to the media outside, which said: ‘I have been held here against my will. They lost my suitcase. I have nothing. I have no essentials. I have told them I can’t breath. Police told me I can’t leave without a doctor’s exempt note. Please send legal help or something. Thank you.’
Other travellers were pictured this morning arriving at the Holiday Inn, another of the hotels near Heathrow which is taking quarantine guests, but it has been criticised by one traveller as feeling ‘like prison’.
Mohammed Mostafa, 42, from East London, who has high blood pressure and diabetes, said he needed a paramedic on Monday night after being bussed over to the hotel from Heathrow.
He flew from Bangladesh via Dubai and Frankfurt and said: ‘This is a horror story. Now I’m here it feels like a prison. They are treating us like animals – I had to fight so hard to get a breath of fresh air outside.’
In other developments today:
- Anti-lockdown Tories piled further pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lift restrictions before July;
- An Imperial College study found one in 196 people were infected with Covid in the first half of February;
- 738 deaths were reported yesterday, down from 1,001 last Wednesday, and daily cases fell below 13,000;
- MPs warned that many of the UK’s nightclubs and music venues would not survive without government help;
- The UK will be the first country to deliberately infect volunteers with coronavirus to find better vaccines.
Some travellers face having to fork out an extra £1,200 if they test positive for Covid during their stay, with families facing an additional £1,700. It already costs individual adults £1,750 and a typical family of four £3,050.
A woman staying in quarantine at the Radisson Blu hotel near Heathrow gives a thumbs down to a photographer this morning
The woman reads a book and eats toast to pass the time while stuck in quarantine at the Radisson Blu hotel this morning
A man holds up his laptop to the window of his room at the Radisson Blu today, displaying a message to the media outside
A man gives a thumbs down gesture next to a sign asking for ‘freedom plis’ in the window of Radisson Blu hotel room today
But arrivals who test positive on the eighth day will have to quarantine for a further ten days, extending their stay to 18 days. This will cost an extra £152 a day for an adult, £41 for additional adults and £12 per child aged five to 12.
It means the total bill for an individual guest would rise to £2,966, or £4,786 for a family of two adults and two children. All arrivals must take two Covid tests while in hotel quarantine, on the second and eighth days.
It comes as bosses from UK airlines called on Boris Johnson to outline a recovery road map for the industry so they can plan for the summer, as passengers arriving from Spain and the US could be added to the ‘red list’.
The chief executives of British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com, Loganair, Ryanair, Tui and Virgin Atlantic warned that the Government should provide a clear indication of intent that aviation will restart in the coming months.
They said that without this, the UK faces a year of limited global connectivity, and the economic recovery will be hindered. Airlines also called for more economic support to stimulate and strengthen any recovery when it comes.
The firms said the Prime Minister’s lockdown announcement next Monday should include a road map for airlines and consumers to help them plan for the summer and pave the way for the safe reopening of international travel.
UK health officials will decide this week if those arriving from the two countries should isolate for ten days in one of the 16 quarantine hotels approved by the Government in an effort to stop the mutant variants from spreading.
But daily Covid-19 case rates are falling in the US, down to a rolling seven-day average of 77,093 yesterday from 217,703 a month ago; and in Spain, down to 11,939 from 28,829. In the UK, they are down to 12,323 from 46,339.
Passengers arrive at the Holiday Inn hotel near Heathrow Airport today to begin their ten-day quarantine
The Holiday Inn hotel near London Heathrow Airport, one of the Government-designated quarantine hotels, is seen today
Passengers arrive at the Holiday Inn hotel near Heathrow Airport today, three days after the hotel quarantine policy began
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said the decision on whether to add Spain and the US to the ‘red list’ will depend on how the UK Government defines ‘high risk’ – in terms of variants or cases.
What are the rules for entering Britain?
- You cannot enter the UK if you’ve been in or through a country on the banned travel list (known as the ‘red list’) in the last 10 days, unless you’re British, Irish or you have the right to live in the UK
- You must either quarantine where you’re staying or in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days
- What you need to do depends on where you travel in the 10 days before you arrive – if you travel in or through a country on the banned travel list within 10 days, you must stay managed quarantine hotel; if not, you can quarantine at home
- You need to provide your journey and contact details in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You must do this by completing the online passenger locator form
- You’ll need to show proof that you’ve completed the form when you arrive at the UK border as well as proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken three days before departure
- You could be fined £500 when you arrive at the border if you cannot provide proof that you have had a negative coronavirus test
- You do not need a test if you’re travelling within the UK, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey; from Ireland; from Ascension, Falkland Islands or St Helena; and children under 11 do not need a test
- After arriving at a quarantine hotel you will be tested on days two and eight of your stay using a PCR test self-administered in your room
- In Scotland, arrivals from all international destinations have to quarantine, even if they are not on the red list.
The Cabinet Covid Operations Committee will make their decision using evidence from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
It comes after analysis carried out by the World Health Organisation found dozens of countries where the highly-infectious South African and Brazilian variants had been found were not on the Government’s high-risk list.
They included Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and the US. Both Spain and the US have seen new mutations of Covid-19 transmitted locally and are close to South America and Portugal, which are both already on the UK Government’s ‘red list’.
And Mr Charles told MailOnline this morning: ‘I have to say, it would be quite surprising if Spain and the US were added to the high risk list because their case numbers are falling strongly and reducing in a very positive way.
‘And in fact in terms of daily cases, Spain has a very similar amount to us. In fact, yesterday it had fewer daily cases than the UK. So it would be very surprising and a strange decision if Spain was added to the high risk list, bearing in mind its cases are clearly reducing.
‘The same applies to the US where its daily infections are substantially lower than they were a month ago. I think it depends how the Government is defining high risk – is it defining it by high evidence of new variants or is it defining it by whether infections are spreading?
‘If they had evidence of new variants spreading, then you could see why they might add it to the high risk list, Spain in particular where it’s next door to Portgual, the variants may have comes across the border.
‘Obviously there are links between Madrid and Latin America where there has been evidence of especially the Brazil variant.
‘The Government may decide to add them based on new evidence of new variants in those countries, but from a daily cases point of view it would be very surprising as their numbers are coming down. So if they did add them, I hope it would only be for a short period, until there’s further data showing that governments are starting to get a grip now on the ferocity of the virus.’
Mr Charles added that there are fewer than 10,000 people coming into Britain each day at the moment, including up to 500 from Spain and fewer than 800 from the US. The majority of people on these routes are travelling in economy, rather than business class.
Daily Covid-19 case rates are falling in the US, down to a rolling seven-day average of 77,093 yesterday from 217,703 a month ago; and in Spain, down to 11,939 yesterday from 28,829 a month ago. In the UK, they are down to 12,323 from 46,339
Daily Covid-19 deaths are also falling in the US, Spain and Britain after hitting a new peak in all three – as shown above
In normal circumstances at this time of year, there would be 200,000 to 300,000 arriving in Britain each day. He said: ‘Some airlines are running flights primarily for bringing cargo into the UK, so the flights are carrying on.
Fears over travellers from the US and Spain accidentally bringing in new variants of the virus
There are fears that travellers from the US and Spain could accidentally bring in new variants of the virus, which may make the current vaccines less effective.
But the South African strain – B.1.351 – that can partially dodge immunity is already in Britain, and the UK has recorded the most cases after seeing 153 detections, compared to eight in the US and two in Spain.
And the more infectious Kent strain – B.1.1.7 – is thought to have originated in the UK and is already the dominant strain here, meaning imports of the variant from other countries pose little risk.
The Brazilian strain – P.1 – that can also make jabs less effective may, however, be a cause for concern as it has been detected in both Spain and the US but not in the UK.
But in the US they have only picked up three cases since early January, despite analysing more than 10,000 samples.
And Spain has found only one case in a traveller returning from Brazil, with there currently being no sign of community transmission in the country. It has done less sequencing than other countries, however, and has only sequenced 34 more samples since the end of January, according to researchers.
There has also been a case of the Kent and American variants merging recorded in California, but scientists say as this is only one recorded infection it is too early to say whether it poses a significant risk.
Any quarantine measures imposed on the UK could jeopardise plans for a summer holiday and cut off the last business trip routes, which are a vital lifeline for the struggling aerospace sector.
‘There are very few passengers flying on those planes or routes at the moment, and obviously those who are flying are travelling for essential reasons – maybe military, medical or essential business, it’s a mixture, and essentially that’s why there are still some flights going between the Spain and the US.’
Mr Charles continued: ‘The key thing is these measures can’t last, they’re going to have to be relaxed from April onwards when the data is proving that the NHS is not under pressure from Covid and the Government have got a handle on it.
‘To be honest, I think the numbers flying at the moment are so small that adding these countries to the high risk list at the moment would not have a high impact to the industry. The industry is already on its knees from all of the measures combined.’
Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, told MailOnline he was ‘not overly convinced’ about border control methods.
He said: ‘If you look at the variants what’s interesting about these is that common changes are occurring in different variants,.
‘The E484K change (which can make vaccines less effective) has been found in the South African and Brazilian variants and now also on the back of UK variants that are already here. If that’s the case, are there going to be yet unknown variants that are going to be even more of a concern? We know E484K is already here.’
He added that if the Government wanted to impose ‘red list’ measures they should be in place for arrivals from all countries. ‘Why not have this restriction for all countries anyway,’ he said.
‘You’re making a big assumption in terms of the ways people travel and people mix and it has always made me think that if we’re going to do this and if we are going to be serious about this we should have a blanket approach.’
After almost a year with minimal revenues, all airlines are counting on a bumper summer recovery in three to four months’ time to ease pressure on their strained finances.
And Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, told MailOnline today: ‘Today all air travel including to the US and Spain is already heavily restricted by quarantine and testing requirements on travellers.
‘Hotel quarantine is an additional layer of restrictions that UK airlines have supported as an emergency, targeted measure.
‘But their introduction makes it all the more vital that Government publishes a recovery roadmap for aviation that spells out how these restrictions will be lifted when the time is right, that will be vital not just for the aviation industry but also any prospects of a wider UK economic recovery.’
This graphic shows how common are the most troublesome variants of Covid-19 in the US and Spain, compared to Britain
International passengers push their baggage through London Heathrow Airport after arriving at Terminal Two yesterday
Speaking about the Prime Minister outlining a recovery road map for the industry so they can plan for the summer, Mr Alderslade added: ‘The Prime Minister needs to indicate the intent for international travel to reopen again this summer and provide much-needed reassurance that travel will be possible, helping to restore consumer confidence.
33 ‘high-risk’ nations from which arriving travellers will have to quarantine in hotels
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Countries with the highest cases of the South African and Brazilian variant, which may be next on the list
Austria and Belgium
‘We do not expect travel restrictions to be lifted tomorrow, but it is important that the country has a clear view on the plan for international travel as we emerge from lockdown.
‘We expect every other domestic economic sector, from hospitality to retail to leisure, will have a road map announced – so must aviation.’
Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: ‘We know people are looking for some reassurance about when they will be able to return to some normality.
‘To be able to achieve this we need to know that Government is planning for travel to return when it is safe and stand ready to work with them on a road map that could help us reunite people with their loved ones or enable people to take a much-needed holiday this year.’
David Burling, of TUI Group, said: ‘We believe there’s a safe way to restart international travel by lifting travel restrictions on a country-by-country basis – ensuring that we continue to protect our health systems and the vaccine, but without imposing unnecessary restrictions.’
And Sean Doyle, chief executive of British Airways, said: ‘The aviation industry stands with the Government in putting public health at the top of its agenda, but the future of the British economy and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people are at risk without a sensible and structured plan to safely restart international travel over the coming months.’
It comes after a Government source told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The US and Spain are on the list so it means some of the bigger markets will be considered by officials as part of the discussions before being put to ministers. It will be based on evidence from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.’
It comes after airports were told this week that the list of high-risk countries would ‘get longer before it got shorter’, according to the Telegraph.
Yesterday passengers shut in hotel quarantine after arriving from the UK began to reach desperate levels, posting notes at their windows begging to leave their accommodation.
All arrivals in England from 33 banned countries must book government-approved accommodation at an initial cost of £1,750 under a scheme that came into force on Monday.
But the strain of being stuck inside seemed to be taking its toll on some of the enforced hotel residents.
One held aloft a handwritten note at his window, bemoaning: ‘I am stressed here, no mobile phone, no access to my bank details to sort bills, my Covid-19 results. Why can’t quarantine at home?’
Another woman held up her boxed up meal at the glass, with a thoroughly disgusted look on her face.
The hotel quarantine initiative is intended to stop dangerous Covid variants being imported into the UK and there are no exemptions for illness of people who have suffered bereavement.
Two-thirds of adults ‘back vaccination passports’
Two-thirds of UK adults support the idea of vaccination passports despite legal and ethical concerns, a poll has revealed.
More than 15 million adults have now received their first dose as the UK leads the way with its vaccine programme.
The rapid rollout has prompted questions about whether the government should introduce vaccine passports for foreign travel – a move previously rejected by Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine minister, over fears it would be discriminatory.
A survey of 2,000 adults has revealed 68 per cent support vaccination passports for people heading out of the UK on holiday and business.
And more than three quarters (77 per cent) think tourists entering the UK should also be able to provide proof they have been vaccinated.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised against their introduction due to the ‘critical unknowns’ regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission.
The WHO has also expressed concerns that while there is limited availability, preferential vaccination of travellers could result in inadequate supplies of vaccines for priority populations considered at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease.
More than a third (34 per cent) of those surveyed by Medicspot admitted they were concerned that forcing people to have vaccination passports to go abroad would be a breach of human rights as it could discriminate against those who are waiting for the vaccine, cannot have it, or do not want it.
It follows a petition against vaccine passports which has been signed by more than 145,000 people.
A spokesperson for Medicspot said: ‘Unfortunately the virus is here to stay, and authorities and the public will be looking at ways to live with it.
‘The UK’s vaccine rollout has been a brilliant success and the subject of vaccination passports is a sensitive subject which finds itself at the centre of a complex debate.’
Medicspot, which provides fit to fly certificates that show people are Covid-19 free so they can travel abroad, looked at how the public views current regulations on international journeys.
The survey found almost half (47 per cent) think the threat of 10 years in prison for lying about their travel to avoid a 10-day quarantine is a fair punishment, with just 37 per cent regarding it as harsh.
And more than a fifth (21 per cent) would be happy to pay £1,750 to be quarantined after arriving in the UK from a country on a Covid red list.
Two thirds (65 per cent) also support the use of an up-to-date fit to fly certificate saying they don’t have Covid-19 so they can travel abroad.
The research, carried out via OnePoll, showed more than three quarters (77 per cent) are really impressed with the UK’s rollout of the vaccination – with just seven per cent not impressed.
Half (49 per cent) of the public think the Covid-19 vaccine should be compulsory for all adults, while 16 per cent think it should only be compulsory for adults deemed ‘at risk’ by medical experts.
Almost two thirds (63 per cent) thought it was a good idea for the NHS to use Sir Elton John and Sir Michael Caine to encourage people to get the vaccine.
But despite the vaccine rollout, just a quarter think people will be able to attend public events like sports matches and music gigs this year.
If these large-scale events do allow spectators, 72 per cent support the use of vaccine passports or an up-to-date certificate saying you don’t have Covid-19 in order to attend.
And overall, 74 per cent support the government’s latest lockdown and its measures, with just 14 per cent opposed.
Upon arrival, travellers must show Border Force evidence of a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within three days of leaving the previous country.
Quarantining guests are then tested on days two and eight using PCR tests self-administered in their own rooms. They can leave after they have received a negative result and quarantined for ten days.
Meanwhile, guests who test positive on the second occasion will have to pay £1,200 to extend their stay for an extra eight nights at £152 per day.
Guests received their tests for the first time yesterday, including Brazilian couple Wagner and Elaine Araujo, who are staying at the Radisson Blue near Heathrow. Yesterday marked 48 hours since they arrived in the hotel.
Mr Araujo, 43, told MailOnline they would have to pay £2,400 provided they both tested negative.
‘We’re waiting to hear when we’ll be tested are confident that we’ll be negative because we had to prove we were negative before leaving Brazil,’ he said. ‘Like many guests our big concern is how we will pay for this quarantine.
‘It’s a lot of money and we feel we’ve been unfairly treated because we were initially booked to return before the quarantine hotel scheme started but our return flights to the UK kept on getting cancelled.’
He added: ‘Fortunately you don’t have to pay the money up front but when we leave, we’ll have to find it from somewhere. It’s going to be a struggle paying this bill.’
Also yesterday, Dominic Raab clashed with ITV’s Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway as she grilled the Foreign Secretary on the policy.
The row was sparked when Ms Garraway asked Mr Raab to ‘clarify’ his response to her questions about a series of bungles over the scheme, including reports that Border Guards had only received the full enforcement guidance three hours before it started.
The politician snapped back ‘Will you let me answer?’ before saying that people are fed up with ‘the media’ not allowing politicians to give ‘honest answers’.
Meanwhile, concerns were today raised about the impact of the programme on people with cancer after a British man said it had left him stuck abroad.
Michael Thomas, 68, is in Madeira with his wife and 14-year-old daughter after flying out for a holiday in December.
He need a special diet, access to medicine and support, and also fears he could catch Covid from other guests or a member of staff, which he described as a ‘death sentence’.
‘I couldn’t do the hotel. I think I’d leave on a stretcher,’ he told the Guardian.
Guests can ask for medical attention and can leave the hotel for treatment but Mr Thomas’ GP has told him the stay would be too dangerous. There are no medical exemptions to the scheme.
It comes as an eight-year-old girl and her father were reunited with the child’s mother after being wrongly quarantined under Scotland’s new hotel isolation rules.
Chun Wong and his daughter Kiernan had spent just a day in quarantine when they were told they could go free. Afterwards, Kiernan was seen embracing her mother after immigration delays had kept them apart for 16 months.
Since the start of the week, all passengers arriving in Scotland on international flights must enter ‘managed isolation’.
But this does not apply to those coming from within the Common Travel Area, including the UK and Ireland, meaning the Wongs could go free.
Security measures for hotel guests in England have caused controversy, with some claiming they can leave their rooms to smoke ‘whenever they want’ while staff have been seen not wearing masks properly.
Businessman Wayne Kelly, who is quarantining for ten days at the Radisson Blu hotel at Heathrow, told how he was escorted from his room outside for a cigarette by security guards – some of whom were wearing masks beneath their nose.
Mr Kelly, 37, a property developer – who flew back to the UK from Dubai on Monday – said: ‘I can have regular cigarette breaks when I want them. I just phone down and they send a bloke up to accompany me.
‘When you get to the ground floor, there are guys in yellow flack jackets sitting and standing around. They are nice guys but some of them haven’t got their face masks on properly.
‘It is ironic really because I suppose the whole point of me being inside here it to protect everyone else. Whenever I leave my room I have my Gucci facemask pulled up properly and it would be great if they played their part and put their masks on properly too.
‘That is meant to be the rules for everyone. But they are friendly and there are no heavy duty restrictions on me.
‘I am made to sign the book when I leave my room and go out to the smoking area and I have to sign it when I come back in. But if I wanted to, I could just walk right out of this hotel.’
Security guards patrolling outside the Radisson and neighbouring Novotel confirmed that they have been told to allow guests to go outside for a smoke but warned that they must not be left alone.
One said that they had not been told of any limits to the number of times a guest can go outside for a smoke. ‘I don’t know if it’s an official policy, because strictly speaking guests are not allowed to leave their rooms.
‘But we’ve been told that if somebody does need to go out for a smoke, then we have to accompany them to make sure that they do not run off or meet anybody,’ he told MailOnline.
But other staff members at both the Novotel and the Holiday Inn said smoking was not allowed and quarantining guests need to stay in their rooms for the duration of their stay.
West Midlands Police said earlier this week that four travellers were fined £10,000 each for failing to declare they had been in a Covid hotspot country.
The penalties were handed out at Birmingham Airport only hours after quarantine hotels came into force on Monday.
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