COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine ‘Fundamental Breach’ of Human Rights: UK Law Firm

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
December 6, 2021 Updated: December 6, 2021

A law firm is taking the British government to court over its mandatory COVID-19 hotel quarantine policy, which it says constitutes a “fundamental breach” of human rights.

PGMBM, a London-based law firm, said it will seek permission at the High Court for a judicial review of the government’s policy on hotel quarantine.

At a two-hour hearing scheduled for Thursday, the firm will present evidence before a judge, who will decide whether a review will be granted.

To contain the spread of the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which was first detected in South Africa, the UK government currently requires people entering the UK from 11 countries in Africa to spend 10 full days in a quarantine hotel, at a cost of £2,285 ($3,031) for solo travellers.

Tom Goodhead, managing partner at PGMBM, said: “We wholeheartedly appreciate the seriousness of the Omicron variant, as well as the efforts of governments and health care workers to tackle it. This does not, however, mean that policies which constitute extraordinary violations of traditional liberties and human rights can escape the careful judicial examination they deserve.

“Hotel quarantine is a fundamental breach of people’s human rights. Law-abiding citizens who have been double vaccinated and tested negative should be free from hotel quarantine. The idea that they need to pay for the privilege of their own imprisonment is outrageous. It is for this reason that we are taking the UK government to court.”

Among the backers of the case are Owen Hancock, 35, and Emily Mennie, 30, who are returning to London from a break in South Africa. They said the government’s sudden decision to impose travel restrictions and to require hotel quarantine added to their financial woes and they are now facing a £4,000 ($5,300) credit card bill on their return.

The couple have set up an online petition that has attracted more than 40,000 signatures, calling on the government to fund hotel quarantine costs for travellers caught in the same situation.

Mennie called the government’s policy “ridiculous and unjustifiable.”

Hancock said it’s “utterly unfair and unreasonable” that they should have to pay for mandatory hotel quarantine, which was suddenly imposed with very short notice.

In response to the lawsuit, a UK government spokesperson said: “We are determined to protect our country and the progress we have made thanks to the vaccine rollout. We make no apology for taking decisive action at the border and introducing hotel quarantine. Every essential check has strengthened our defences against the risk of new coronavirus variants such as Omicron.”

PA contributed to this report.