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Travel news latest: ‘No scientific evidence’ for quarantine hotels

The bosses of British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic have criticised the Government’s plans to introduce hotel quarantine for arrivals from ‘high risk’ destinations. 

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, executives from the three airlines said they had ‘seen no compelling scientific evidence’ to support the idea of hotel quarantine, and called on Boris Johnson to discuss financial support for the industry.

“Policy should be based on evidence,’ they wrote; ‘and we have seen no compelling scientific evidence that introducing a policy potentially of blanket quarantine in hotels, is necessary in addition to measures only recently introduced.

‘We request the opportunity to discuss both an exit plan and a bespoke support package with you urgently, at a time of your convenience.’

The plans, based on Australia’s hotel quarantine system, would cost travellers up to £1,500 for 10 days self-isolating – with meals served in their rooms and round-the-clock supervision by private security guards.

Scroll down for more on this story, and other breaking travel news.

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9:50AM

“I started to understand why solitary confinement is used as punishment, as torture”

Ben McKechnie, a photographer and journalist, recalls his experience of being locked inside hotel quarantine for 15 days in Taiwan:

9:36AM

Hyatt Hotels to offer free COVID-19 testing

Hotel chain Hyatt has announced that it will offer free Covid-19 testing at 19 of its resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean and South America, for guests travelling back to the US.

The news comes as the US introduced compulsory negative Covid-19 tests from all returning travellers. Though widely welcomed, the new requirement has sparked concerns that testing infrastructure in the Caribbean and South America may not be sufficient to cope with demand. 

The company also announced that it would give those who were unable to travel because of a positive result 50 per cent off room rates, and 30 per cent off food.

9:20AM

Which hotels would be used – and where would they be?

In all likelihood, quarantining travellers would have to sit out their isolation in chain hotels, close to airports and motorways.

In countries where ‘directed isolation’ currently takes place, travellers are transported by bus from airports and arrival points, directly to dedicated hotels – often with a police escort.

Only large, self-contained properties are suitable for the task: often part of chains, like the Conrad Centennial Singapore (operated by Hilton), and Four Points by Sheraton Auckland (operated by Marriott). 

They usually offer dwellings of various sizes. Apartment hotels are particularly popular, enabling families to isolate together – often with self-contained cooking and washing facilities. 

In every instance, guests must stay entirely within their own room, suite or apartment; venturing into public areas is not permitted. 

9:08AM

What is it really like to stay in a quarantine hotel? 

Karen Edwards spent 14 days in a quarantine hotel in Perth, Australia. She tells Telegraph Travel:

On some days, the lack of fresh air would bring on a stifling headache and I’d sleep during the day for some respite. 

Room cleaning wasn’t an option, so spare towels and sheets were left on a chair for us to manage. Two assigned plates and mugs were to be used as needed – and we requested a small cup of washing-up liquid for the dishes, and laundry powder for our clothes. We cleaned both in the bath.

While the food wasn’t the usual Hyatt standard, or very nutritious, it wasn’t to be sniffed at. Lunch was typically a baguette (gluten free for me) and dinner varied from chow mein to grilled fish. There were no options, but straight-forward allergies were catered for.

All the while, the occasional muffled buzz of a security radio – two guards patrolled each of the seven floors – was a reminder that this was serious. We were doing this to help protect the community. 

Read more.

A typical quarantine breakfast

A typical quarantine breakfast

Credit:
Karen Edwards

The hotel room where Karen and her husband spent 14 days

The hotel room where Karen and her husband spent 14 days

Credit:
Karen Edwards

8:56AM

Announcement today to lay out plans for ‘less flow of individuals’ into England

Home Secretary Priti Patel will set out further steps to the Commons today to ensure there is “less flow of individuals” into England to control new strains of coronavirus, Robert Jenrick has confirmed.

He told Sky News: “The Prime Minister has said we do want to go further and the Home Secretary will be making a statement in Parliament later today about further steps we are going to take in this country to ensure that there is less flow of individuals in.”

We will, of course, have more on this as it develops.

8:48AM

Heathrow crowding due to Covid test checks on passengers, says Priti Patel

The Home Secretary was challenged by MPs over crowds at Heathrow over the weekend as some 10,000 arrivals a day crammed into the immigration hall in which Border Force had introduced checks of incoming passengers’ pre-departure tests and locator forms.

Yvette Cooper, who chairs the home affairs committee, said the crowds, with passengers struggling to socially distance, were unsafe and “the very opposite of quarantine”. 

Ms Patel responded: “The fact of the matter is those queues materialised because of the compliance checks that Border Force had put in place.”

The Home Secretary said Border Force was working with Heathrow to maintain social distancing as officials sought to check 100 per cent of passengers arriving to ensure they had negative results from pre-departure tests and locator forms to confirm where they would be quarantining.

Charles Hymas and Dominic Penna have the story.

8:38AM

Yesterday’s headlines

A recap of Tuesdays’s main stories:

  • Poll suggests Britons ‘support tough travel restrictions’ to tackle Covid
  • Florida bans ‘vaccine tourists’
  • ATOL protection for refund credit notes extended to March 31
  • Biden tightens travel ban
  • Quarantine hotels could contravene our human rights, says lawyer
  • New Zealand: Borders to remain closed for much of this year

Now, on with today’s news.

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