Since the coronavirus pandemic began, countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore have made travelers entering into their countries quarantine in a hotel for a specified period of time. These precautions were put in place to prevent travelers from bringing in, and spreading the COVID-19 infection. So, after travelers touched down at their destination they would be escorted to a nearby ‘quarantine’ hotel, where they would stay for around two weeks (this varies from country to country) to ensure that they do not develop a COVID-19 infection.
After this period, they would be able to enter the country and still follow the social distancing rules. Recently, the United Kingdom has put into place a hotel quarantine requirement, but only for those who are coming from a country that has been placed on the UK’s so-called ‘red list’. This currently comprises of 33 countries and includes places such as Brazil, Portugal, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Peru, Mauritius, Rwanda and more.
Hotel quarantine rules and limitations vary from country to country. In the UK, the UK government now requires incoming passengers to pre-book the quarantine hotel and pay £1,750 to spend the required 10 days in said hotel. Travelers will need to take a COVID-19 test on day 2 and day 8 of their quarantine period. The £1,750 cost includes, the hotel stay, transport and testing. The government guidelines warns that ‘You could be fined up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both, if you do not provide accurate details about the countries you have visited in the 10 days before you arrived in the UK,’ and ‘If you break the quarantine rules you may face a penalty of up to £10,000.’
Passengers entering into the UK still need to take a COVID test 72 hours prior to their flight – only flying if it is negative. They must make the quarantine arrangements before they travel and then quarantine in the designated hotel for 10 days. When they are at the hotel they have to stay in the room for 10 days, they are allowed to order room service or deliveries of food from nearby restaurants to the hotel reception. Some are allowed out for short walks, yet it has been noted that many areas of the UK’s hotel quarantine is not up to scratch. The BBC reported: ‘although the government’s guidelines on quarantine hotels do allow for exercise at the discretion of security, some unions have previously expressed concern about the safety measures in place to protect staff working in the hotels and in particular those who may have to accompany guests on walks or cigarette breaks.’
The Republic of Ireland has also recently enforced hotel quarantine, and will need to spend 14 days in isolation and take several COVID-19 tests. The details and costs of which has not yet been confirmed.
In Australia, TimeOut reported the experience of Time Out Australia’s editorial director Cass Knowlton who went through quarantine: ‘Two of us are stuck in one single hotel room for 23.5 hours a day,’ she explains. ‘Once a day we are brought outside by the guards to walk around in a small pen set up in the hotel car park. We are fortunate that the windows open in our room, but not every quarantine hotel has that ability… Three times a day, there is a knock at our door to let us know our packed lunches are there.
We wait a minute, to give the guard time to leave the hallway, then open it and bring our food inside. There’s no menu or choice given, though if you have dietary restrictions the hotel will accommodate them.’ She also stated that a lot of time is spent on the phone to healthcare officials, ‘Tasmanian and Victorian health authorities have been in daily contact by phone, checking up on us, making sure we are doing okay and doing the right thing.’
Cass advised that anyone who is travelling to or from a country that will require quarantine, or even just in case, to pack for your trip and two weeks to accommodate for any hotel quarantine needs.
The UK’s mandatory enforcement of hotel quarantines came into place on the 15th of February and took some travelers already returning to the UK by surprise. It is possible that other countries may put hotel quarantines into place as the pandemic worsens for them or even as they begin to open their borders to travelers, therefore it is advisable to check before you travel and even, pack extra in case these restrictions come into place.