Quarantine hotel rules face legal challenge

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A man sits at a window of the Radisson Blu hotel at Heathrow Airport in west LondonImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Travellers quarantine at the Radisson Blu hotel near Heathrow airport

A law firm representing travellers is challenging the UK's quarantine hotel policy and seeking a judicial review.

Currently, passengers must spend 11 nights in quarantine hotels on returning from red list countries, despite being fully vaccinated and testing negative for Covid.

London-based firm PGMBM says this is an "unlawful deprivation of liberty".

On Thursday, the cost of staying in a quarantine hotel jumped from £1,750 to £2,285.

The firm has begun legal proceedings.

PGMBM managing partner Tom Goodhead said: "Mandatory hotel quarantine is a fundamental breach of human rights. It has led to the false imprisonment of people who are fully vaccinated and have tested negative.

"Prisoners are entitled to more liberty than those forced to quarantine in hotels."

More than 60 locations including Turkey, Mexico, Kenya and many countries in Africa are currently on the red list.

The other European countries with mandatory quarantine involving hotel detentions - Ireland and Norway - have amended their schemes so fully vaccinated travellers are exempt from needing to quarantine.

A government spokesperson said: "We are determined to protect our country and the progress we have made thanks to the vaccine rollout. That is why the government has taken decisive action at the border, including the introduction of the managed quarantine system.

"Every essential check we've introduced has strengthened our defences against the risk of new coronavirus variants.

"Countries around the world are taking equivalent action and apply a fixed charge for quarantine costs. The cost for travelling back from a red list country covers transport from the port of arrival to the designated hotel, food, accommodation, security, other essential services and testing."

Image source, Getty Images

The legal team are seeking compensation, not only for those they represent, but also for anyone who has been double-jabbed in the UK and has stayed at a quarantine hotel.

In addition to compensation for the alleged breach in human rights, the law firm is also seeking refunds of the cost of the quarantine hotel stays.

This is the second case PGMBM has brought about quarantine hotels. The first was on the grounds of financial hardship and resulted in the government offering the option to pay in 12 monthly instalments for those facing financial hardship.

"We want to see this draconian policy scrapped and those affected to be properly compensated," he continued.

Mr Goodhead added that the majority of the people who got in touch with the law firm were not travelling to or from red list countries for holidays or for leisure.

"They are often travelling for emergency or urgent reasons and would not be travelling unless they felt it was absolutely necessary," he explained.