UK Government Sued Again Over Hotel Quarantine Rules

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.
August 12, 2021 Updated: August 12, 2021

A British law firm is seeking a second judicial review of the government’s hotel quarantine policy.

The firm, PGMBM, said it believes that putting people who test negative for COVID-19 and have been vaccinated into managed hotel quarantine is “an ‘unlawful deprivation of liberty’ and violates fundamental human rights.”

Under the UK’s traffic-light-style international travel system, only British and Irish citizens and residents are allowed to travel from the “red list” destinations—countries and areas that are deemed to be of high risk based on criteria such as vaccination numbers, infection rates, and prevalence of variants.

Those who arrive from the red list countries have to present a negative test taken within three days prior to arrival, pre-book a managed 10-day hotel quarantine (11 days including the arrival date) at one of the government designated hotels, and pay for two tests taken on day 2 and days 8 after arriving.

According to PGMBM’s managing partner Tom Goodhead, the cost of the quarantine package rose from £1,750 ($2,425) to £2,285 ($3,166) on Thursday.

PGMBM has previously won a judicial review of the policy, forcing the government to promise it would introduce a process for full or partial fee waiver applications on the grounds of financial hardship.

It now argues that “forcibly detaining fully vaccinated people returning to the UK from red list countries is unlawful when the government has shifted to ‘learning to live with the virus’ and lifted almost all legally mandated society-wide restrictions.”

PGMBM said if the government doesn’t change its approach, it could end up “paying tens of millions of pounds in compensation” on top of refunding the fees of “all those who have been already unlawfully forced to quarantine in hotels despite having been double vaccinated.”

Goodhead called mandatory hotel quarantine “a fundamental breach of human rights.”

“It has led to the false imprisonment of people who are fully vaccinated and have tested negative,” he said in a statement.

“Prisoners are entitled to more liberty than those forced to quarantine in hotels. We have all read about the horrific experiences of some of the people in these hotels. We want to see this draconian policy scrapped and those affected to be properly compensated.”

He argued that Ireland and Norway—the only other European countries with similar mandatory quarantine systems—have changed their policy to exempt fully vaccinated travellers.

“The UK must follow suit immediately,” Goodhead said.

Heathrow airport quarantine
Passengers are escorted through the arrivals area of terminal 5 towards coaches destined for quarantine hotels, after landing at Heathrow airport in London on April 23, 2021. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

PGMBM said its letter to the government highlighted inconsistencies in its policy.

The UK government removed most legal restrictions to curb the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus on July 19.

After that, fully vaccinated “amber list” arrivals are exempt for self-isolation if they test negative on day 2 after their arrival.

PGMBM argues that this “acknowledge[s] the much lower risk profile of [a] fully-vaccinated person.”

It also argues that hotel quarantine for people who test negative is unfair when amber list country arrivals can self-isolate at home if they test positive for the CCP virus.

Recent studies suggest that although CCP virus vaccines are effective in reducing severe disease and death, it’s not very effective in terms of blocking transmission.

The latest REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission study-1 suggests that the estimated vaccine effectiveness against infection among 18–64-year-olds is between 49 and 58 percent. Regarding whether the vaccines can reduce the chance of passing the virus to others, various results have been observed, with some suggesting there’s no difference in infectiousness between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and some saying that vaccinated people who caught COVID-19 are less likely to pass the virus on.

In an email to The Epoch Times, 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.”

PGMBM has not responded to The Epoch Times request for comment at the time of publishing.

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.