Mohammed Mostafa was flying back to London after visiting family in Bangladesh when he found himself forced to spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel — at his own expense.
A quarantined traveller at Heathrow’s Radisson Blu hotel holds up a ‘help’ sign
“It was absolutely shocking and I felt quite intimidated as well,” said the 42-year-old, who works in sales and marketing.
The new policy requires all UK citizens and permanent residents entering England from 33 “red list” countries to book in at an approved hotel, at a cost of £1,750 ($2,435, 2,010 euros) per stay.
The countries affected include all South American nations, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.
From his room in the Holiday Inn hotel near Heathrow Airport, Mostafa told AFP he only spent a few hours in a “red zone” country, while changing planes in Dubai.
“It’s such a big mess,” he said.
“I came from a country that’s not on the red list, so why should I be in this situation? I don’t get that.”
AFP also spoke to another man, Mohamed Noor, who was in a similar situation after flying from Somalia via Dubai.
Britain’s move comes long after other countries such as Australia introduced such measures, but it is now taking a tough approach.
On Tuesday, police said they had fined four passengers who arrived at Birmingham Airport in central England £10,000 each for failing to declare that they had arrived from a “red list” country.
Yet some hotels and passengers have complained of a rushed, chaotic process.
“I do completely agree with the idea as a theory but the way it has been implemented is utterly incompetent,” said Mostafa.
– ‘Like a prison’ –
His hotel room was “simply like a prison,” cold and “claustrophobic,” he complained.
“They said you’re not allowed to go out, you’re not allowed to do anything.”
He was permitted to take some walks, however, due to health issues including diabetes and high blood pressure, he said.
The money is also a concern: since Mostafa did not have immediate funds, he will pay in instalments, he said.
It would have been cheaper for him to return to Bangladesh and rebook, rather than pay the cost of £1,750, he said, but he was not offered this option and was not warned at Dubai, where he said he was told he would simply have to book a home test kit.