Thursday, July 7, 2022

Traveller tells of hotel quarantine ‘shambles’ as country is removed from red list

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Caption: Exclusive: People are still stuck in hotel quarantine ?shambles? as red list cut Credit Getty
Thousands of people are still waiting it out in hotel quarantine despite the red list being drastically reduced by the UK Government (Picture: Getty)

A British man returning from Trinidad has told of the ‘shambolic’ red list system – as he sits in hotel quarantine while others from the island are allowed relatively free entry to the UK.

Rob, an oil industry contractor, described ‘farcical’ scenes as he caught an ‘island hopper’ flight home with around 300 people from three different Caribbean countries, including green-listed Barbados.

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He described Covid marshals failing to intervene as passengers ‘queued like sardines’ at immigration in Heathrow as he spent four-and-a-half hours between landing and arriving at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel.

The married father-of-one, from Aberdeen, said that he had been tested for Covid twice a week in Trinidad for his job and had little contact with anyone other than a small group of workmates.

He arrived back in the UK on Friday, having caught a Caribbean Airlines flight that stopped en-route in Barbados, which was already on the green list, and then the Dominican Republic, going through airports in both countries, before flying to London with British Airways.

Quarantine hotel guests 'partying' until early hours in smoking area together
Guests at the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Heathrow, are having to wait it out even after the red list was reduced by the Government (Picture: Rex)

As of 4am today, Dominica is the only Caribbean country remaining on the red list after 47 destinations were reduced to seven.

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‘The whole system is farcical,’ Rob said.

‘I have been right through Barbados airport with just a mask, having umpteen chances to infect other people, and then I’ve been on a flight with 300 other people from red and green list countries.

‘It makes a mockery of the whole system.

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‘At Heathrow the plane landed at Terminal 5, but the quarantine side of it is at Terminal 4, so you travel right through the airport mixing with thousands of other people.

‘The borders and immigration process was farcical. There were three guides in high-viz jackets, with one of them having a vest saying Covid Marshal.

‘All they did was point in the direction of one of three open desks when one of the immigration officers shouted. Everyone was packed into the queue like sardines, there was no social distancing, yet the marshals did nothing.’

The pack for managed hotel quarantine left in the room of a British man who arrived on Friday (Picture: Supplied/
The pack for managed hotel quarantine left in the room of a British man who arrived on Friday (Picture: Supplied/

The 35-year-old, who asked to be identified by his first name, said the scenes in London were in marked contrast from Trinidad, where he found most people wore masks and were careful to sanitise hands in public spaces.

He arrived at the hotel near Heathrow three days before the island was removed from the red list, meaning only proof of testing is needed for entry to the UK, but is among thousands who will still have to wait out the 10-day isolation period.

‘I feel there was no organisation to it whatsoever despite the fact they have been doing this for some time now,’ Rob said.

‘It’s shambolic. I came in on Friday and Trinidad is no longer a red list country as of today. I’m double vaccinated and the lateral flow test I was having twice a week at the gate for the last five weeks is also not taken into account.

‘In the Caribbean they were much more careful and strict with Covid precautions than they are here, and I was in a bubble on site with my workmates.

‘My day two Covid test has come back negative. It just seems pointless sitting here with none of these things taken into account.’

A traveller from Trinidad is having to wait it out in hotel quarantine despite the island being removed from the UK's red list (Picture: Supplied/
A traveller from Trinidad is having to wait it out in hotel quarantine despite the island being removed from the UK’s red list (Picture: Supplied/

A Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘A multi-layered array of COVID-secure measures are in place at the airport to keep our passengers and colleagues safe, including enhanced cleaning regimes and ventilation in immigration halls. Whilst Heathrow has deployed dedicated COVID marshals to maintain adequate social distancing, we have always been clear that there are points in the airport journey where social distancing is not always possible.

‘That is why face coverings are mandatory throughout the terminals, as they help to reduce the risk of transmission.’

A Government spokesperson said: ‘Throughout the pandemic we have been clear that queue times may be longer as we ensure all passengers are compliant with the health measures put in place to keep the UK public safe.

‘We have endeavoured to improve waiting times this week, for example by flexibly deploying staff across Heathrow Airport and continue to work closely with all airports and airlines to make sure all passengers can have a safe and hassle-free journey.

‘Arrangements for queues and the management of returning passengers are the responsibility of the relevant airport, which we expect to be done in a COVID-secure way.’

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