I am one of the poor bastards that was forced to isolate in a hotel facility here in the UK and thought I’d share the experience.
I am 24f and Brazilian, but have been living in Europe for four years, and currently I am resident of the UK and live here with my British partner.
As I hadn’t seen my family since the end of 2018, I decided that I need to travel back to Brazil. My grandma is ill, and going so long without seeing my mom and brother was really hard, after a horrible year (2020) I just really needed home. Unfortunately that meant that on my way back I’d have to quarantine in a hotel since Brazil is on a “red list”. The cost of 11 nights is 1750£ and it includes the room, 3 meals a day and transport from the airport. You do not get to decide your hotel, it’s totally random, and some hotels are know for having much better services than others.
Before leaving Brazil I had to do a PCR COVID test, I had to also fill some forms explaining my travel plans. The trip itself wasn’t too bad, just much more queues to check everyone’s documents.
The bullshit starts with the fact that they banned direct flights from Brazil, to “stop” people from coming? I have no idea of the reason because it’s too fucking dumb. Because my flight wasn’t direct it meant that I had to connect in Germany and share a small plane with a lot of people that wouldn’t have to quarantine in a hotel! If they are so truly worried about variant and infection then why that is allowed? It doesn’t make any sense that I have to stay in a hotel but not this person that sat right by my side for almost two hours in a tiny plane! Anyways,
My first issue was arriving in the UK. At Heathrow they had a separate queue for people arriving from red list countries, the queue was pretty short (I counted 15 people in front of me) and I assumed everything would go quickly. But oh boy was I wrong! It took almost 3 hours to be my turn. The border force allocated only ONE person to process our queue. And each person took forever. While that was happening we all could clearly see many agents from the border force walking around aimlessly or just simply chatting and laughing amongst each other. No regard for our wait.
First, everyone was exhausted! I’ve been travelling for almost 30 hours by that point. But also, if they are so afraid of Covid and variants, surely they would want us out of the airport as soon as possible to minimise infection? Well obviously they don’t care.
A person that had the same experience told us in our support group that she asked one of the border force agents why the wait was so long and he said that it was “because people shouldn’t be going on holidays”. What for me clearly shows how their real intention was to punish us for “going on holidays”! Never mind that every person I talked to was either going back to the UK after living abroad, or had to travel duo to family or work reasons.
After they checked all my papers I was handed to a security person who literally escorted me around like I was going to run away. You really feel like a criminal. I then discovered (because my partner told me) that they had changed my hotel last minute. He called the hotel to ask them about a delivery for me and they said I was put in a different hotel. Reason being the government system of hotel booking is so faulty that it doesn’t allow for when a guest tests positive and has to continue to isolate, meaning the system books people in rooms that already have guests using it. Well I had to inform the security because they didn’t know. No one sent me any email with that information and because of that a package for me was sent to the wrong hotel.
We were put in a bus, and they took us to the hotels. At the bus I talked to one of the security guys and he told me he was working shifts from 4AM to midnight four days a week!!! Between shifts he has 3 hours of rest! That’s absolutely illegal in the UK and I know it because I studied to work in Human Resources. I was shocked! They look exhausted. He said he didn’t have a choice as he lost his job duo to lockdown and was struggling to feed his family. It totally broke my heart.
After that I arrived at my hotel, was made to fill more forms, and was allowed into my room. I am not allowed to leave, there is security staff everywhere. You can ask to go out for exercise in the parking lot, but only 15 minutes a day. They give you some choices of food and drop each meal in your door every day. It’s pretty fucking weird.
While here we have to do TWO COVID tests. On day 2 and 8 of the 11 nights stay. My first one was negative and I hope the second will as well. If the second test is positive then you have to stay for more 11 days! And you pay out of pocket.
I am quite lucky because my in laws helped paying for my stay. But I have read many people saying they are stuck abroad as they can’t afford this price. The UK is literally denying entry to their own citizens unless they are able to afford almost 2k£ for this stay! I find that absolutely shocking. I also feel extremely sorry for families with kids that have to do this, i can’t imagine how stressful it is. Many parents complain that the food menu don’t accommodate families so they are struggling.
I still have another six days here and can’t wait to be able to leave. I got quite upset while waiting in the queue, I really felt like the people working in the airport were treating us much worst than anyone else just because of the country we were coming from. I also feel really angry that most of the public don’t seem to think about what this means for many people, families that haven’t seen each other in years or people stuck in foreign countries unable to return home in a time of crisis. I never thought I’d live to see this happening in the UK and it breaks my heart.
Let me know if you have any questions and I can try to answer it. I hope these hotel quarantines end soon but I am not hopeful.
Edit: I just want to add that we have support groups for people doing the hotel quarantine here and a lot of people have been very vocal about how they have been treated poorly. A woman in a different hotel had to have her daughter taken to the hospital duo to food poisoning from food served by the hotels. A lot of the food is very cheap and not good quality and options. They also deliver breakfast at 7AM so when I wake up the food is completely cold so I never have breakfast and tbh most days I also don’t have lunch as most options are very limited to salads or sandwiches. It’s clear that the government is getting a lot of money out of this deal.
Edit 2: sorry I am remembering info I’d like to share lol. 1750£ is just for ONE person. If you are a family of 4, you end up paying almost 5k£ for the stay! Is absolutely insanely expensive. People found hotels similar as the ones we are staying for 200£ for seven days.
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