Travellers in several quarantine hotels are facing substantial delays in receiving their mandatory PCR Covid test results, causing confusion and frustration, with many having to cancel further plans and extend their stay beyond ten days.
Several travellers across various quarantine hotels have been affected by delays in NHS England’s Test, Track and Trace service. The UK Government’s mandatory hotel quarantine, that costs £1,750 for most people up-front, includes two mandatory tests on days 2 and 8, among other services. While those arriving from Amber and Green List countries are largely free to select private test providers, those in hotel quarantine are not allowed that choice.
A stringent condition to leave the quarantine hotels after day 10 is the possession of a negative test on day 8. Failure to have taken this test would result in fines of up to £2,000 and prosecution. However, several distraught travellers who are in ‘managed quarantine’ after returning to England from Red List countries have had to cancel onward journeys home, resulting in added costs and penalties for this, due to the delay.
Many are questioning why the NHS Test, Track and Trace service is being used for these tests if the capacity does not exist, whilst several private testing services provide results for day 8 tests on the same day. Those who called the 119 helpline were told that the NHS testing services were “under pressure” due to the lifting of restrictions today, and tests from several days before were backlogged. Some laboratory workers have stated that they were given samples nearly two days old to be processed during the chaotic surge in testing requirements.
‘Managed quarantine’ hotels have already run into plenty of trouble and criticism due to sub-standard food and poor living conditions. Reports have surfaced of families being rushed to hospitals directly from hotel quarantine due to food poisoning and travellers with disabilities facing difficulties receiving appropriate assistance.
Yet more passengers, including returning students, have complained of poor mental health due to the added strain of delays and repercussions of this. According to many of them who were abroad before countries were erratically placed on the red list, it is “unfair to pay for these 4-star prisons with incompetent management”. On the other hand, wealthy cricketers, other professional sportspeople, diplomats and their families were allowed entry from the same countries without quarantine.