A legal challenge has been launched that quarantining hotels against coronaviruses is a “fundamental violation of human rights”.
People entering the UK from 10 Southern African countries are currently required to spend 10 full days in a quarantine hotel, priced at PS2285 ($ A4318) for solo travelers.
On Monday, Owen Hancock, 35, and Emily Mennie, 30, were scheduled to enter hotel quarantine upon their return from a break in South Africa.
They say they were left stranded when the country was added to the UK’s red list due to concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The couple, from Tooting, London, were visiting Mennie’s family for the first time since the start of the pandemic when their travel plans were plunged into chaos.
When they finally managed to book their return trip, they were told that the hotel’s quarantine was full and that they would have to reschedule their flights and PCR tests.
They say this added to their financial problems and are now faced with a PS4000 credit card bill ($ A7559) upon their return.
The couple set up an online petition, which has garnered more than 40,000 signatures, calling on the government to fund hotel quarantine fees for travelers caught in the same situation when new measures are imposed in the short term.
“This ridiculous and unjustifiable policy was reintroduced without warning, with no ability for us to come home, and then to add insult to injury, we couldn’t get a room,” Mennie said.
“The government’s handling of this matter has been chaotic and this is clear from the number of people who have signed our petition and are calling on the Prime Minister to rethink.”
The couple say they have complied with all guidelines and restrictions since the start of the pandemic.
They are backing a lawsuit by law firm PGMBM that will seek permission from the High Court on Thursday for a judicial review of the government’s mandatory hotel quarantine policy.
The cabinet will present evidence before a judge in a two-hour hearing to decide whether a review will be granted.
Tom Goodhead, Managing Partner at PGMBM, said: “We wholeheartedly appreciate the seriousness of the Omicron variant, as well as the efforts of governments and healthcare professionals to address it.
“This does not mean, however, that policies that constitute extraordinary violations of traditional freedoms and human rights can escape the scrutiny they deserve.
“The hotel quarantine is a fundamental violation of the human rights of individuals. Law-abiding citizens who have been doubly vaccinated and tested negative should not be quarantined at the hotel. The idea that they have to pay for the privilege of their own imprisonment is scandalous. “
A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to protecting our country and the progress we have made with the vaccine rollout.
“We make no apologies for taking decisive action at the border and introducing quarantine in hotels. Each essential check has strengthened our defenses against the risk of new coronavirus variants such as Omicron.”
Australian Associated Press