LONDON – The United Kingdom is struggling to provide hotels to quarantine returning residents coming from red-listed countries.
The British government recently added South Africa and a string of other southern African countries on its red list for travel in a bid to stop the spread of the Omicron variant. Under the new rules, anyone arriving from the banned countries must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.
However, the U.K. government has been caught flat-footed as it turns out there are no hotels spaces. Following the chaos caused by the Omicron variant of Covid.
Stranded U.K. residents stuck in South Africa and other Southern African countries that recently got added on the red list have called on the UK Government to “get its act together”
Report Focus News spoke to some of the residents who were trying to return to the U.K. in the wake of the Omicron variant outbreak. The residents attempting to return expressed frustration over the hotel quarantine system. With some saying the government was not at all prepared for this sudden turn of events.
Within 24 hours, of the announcement of the new variant. South Africa found itself on the UK’s briefly dormant red list, joined by five neighbouring countries. By November 27, four more African nations had been added, flights were being cancelled from South Africa. This also affected its neighbours and flights to multiple other destinations. Meanwhile, the UK’s inbound travel restrictions were being ratcheted back up in a desperate bid to stop a repeat of the Delta variant’s proliferation, and so salvage Christmas. Flights were said to have been all banned, nonetheless, British Airways and others such as Virgin are still flying in from South Africa.
Travel agencies seem to be giving advice that is at odds with the U.K. government rules with regards to quarantine. Many travellers are finding out more about the requirements a little too late, while at the airport and thusly find themselves stranded.
Doreen Dube, from West Midlands, told Report Focus News that she spent the whole day on Wednesday trying to book a £2,285 room for herself, to allow her to return from South Africa.
There appears to be a real shortage of availability with regards quarantine hotel services in the U.K. at the moment.
Other returning U.K. residents who spoke to Report Focus News, spoke of the hours and multiple attempts they made trying to book quarantine hotel space, nonetheless, an error message kept appearing saying: “Sorry, there are no available rooms”, or asking them to rearrange travel.
A government official who spoke to Report Focus News said “We closely monitor the managed quarantine service to ensure we have enough capacity for those arriving from red list countries.
“We are rapidly expanding capacity in light of 10 counties being added to the red list and expect to have more rooms online this week.”
Other returning U.K. residents in South Africa and Zimbabwe vented their anger at the system on social media, with most saying they would have to cancel their trip because of the expense of mandatory quarantine.
It is safer to check the U.K. government website with regards to those returning from red-listed countries.
What we know for now is that quarantine is mandatory if you are traveling from a red-listed country.
Those wanting to travel back into the U.K. from red-listed countries must have a confirmed reservation and booking at a hotel. They must also ensure that it will provide accommodation for them in that mandatory 10 day quarantine period.
Source: Report Focus News