United Kingdom

Couple were forced to eat 'cold, wet and difficult to digest' food while stuck in stuffy room

A woman has revealed the conditions she and her husband experienced at a quarantine hotel in London following their return from the United Arab Emirates - claiming the 'shocking' food caused her 'serious distress'.

Tracey Smith, from Grimsby, repatriated to Dubai, a 'red-list' country, in February of this year to join her husband, Jim, who has lived there for the past two years.

However she flew back to the UK on May 11 as her home was due to be sold and checked in at the Courtyard by Marriott London City Airport for 11 nights under imposed quarantine conditions, at the price of £1,750. 

In addition to the £1,750 fee Mrs Smith had to pay an extra £650 for her husband Jim, to stay at the hotel with her - bringing the total cost to £2,400.

Now, Mrs Smith, who remained at the hotel until May 22, has claimed she and her husband were unable to open the windows in their room and the food they were given was 'often cold, wet and small in portion size', making it 'difficult to digest properly'.

Tracey Smith, from Grimsby, and her husband Jim (pictured together) checked in at the Courtyard by Marriott London City Airport for 11 nights under imposed quarantine conditions

Mrs Smith said the food she was served at the quarantine hotel  (left and right) was 'often cold, wet and small in portion size', making it 'difficult to digest properly'

The couple, from Grimsby, checked in at the Courtyard by Marriott London City Airport for 11 nights under imposed quarantine conditions

She said: 'The room had windows but I couldn't open them so it felt as though we couldn't get any proper ventilation entering the room.

'The room was very clean, not exactly huge, but manageable to live in.' 

Mrs Smith said the experience of the stay was made worse by the quality of the food. 

She added: 'It was the lack of nutrients in the meals provided.

'The food on offer at the hotel was shocking and caused me serious distress.' 

Under the imposed quarantine conditions, Mrs Smith and her husband could only go outside of the hotel building for 15 minutes of fresh air at a time and sometimes this was not even possible if the hotel was busy.

Mrs Smith said: 'It was impossible to do any exercise in our room and the best we could manage was walking around the building when we were allowed fresh air, and this was under close supervision from security guards.

'We must have looked ridiculous but we had no choice because we needed to let off steam somehow for being stuck in a room for almost 23 hours of the day, laying on a bed.'

Mrs Smith believes the Government has played a big role in complicating travel for thousands of people during lockdown.

The couple were only able to go outside of the hotel building for 15 minutes of fresh air at a time but this was not always possible if the hotel was busy. Pictured: View from the couple's hotel room

Mrs Smith , who paid £1,700 for the hotel plus an additional £650 for her husband, said she and her husband would be stuck in their room for almost 23 hours of the day. Pictured: The couple's bathroom 

The couple said they would spend most of the day laying on a bed and it was impossible to do any exercise in the room

Mrs Smith believes the Government has played a big role in complicating travel for thousands of people during lockdown

The couple said they would walk around the building when they were allowed fresh air but this was under close supervision from security guards

She said she felt more exposed to Covid-19 as a result of being inclose proximity to other people from red, amber and green listed countries whilst she was transitioning at London City Airport.

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She said: 'People only see the government doing good by placing people into quarantine, which I fundamentally believe in, but the system just does not work.

'The government made this mess possible and are painting a false picture to the public of what is happening to people like me and my husband.

'But people don't understand the experience of having to do this [isolate in an expensive hotel] and the huge stress it creates on people.'

She added: 'We held off coming back for as long as we could to see if hotel restrictions eased but it was evident from the government's announcements that it would never happen so we had no choice but to fly back and quarantine in a hotel.'

Government guidelines state arrivals from 'red list' countries, including India, Brazil and South Africa, must quarantine for ten days inside a designated hotel.

Those arriving in the country must take two Covid-19 tests during the duration of their stay in England.  

The Department of Health and Social Care have said people could be fined up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both if they do not provide accurate details about the countries they have visited in the last 10 days of re-entry into the UK.       

The DoHSC also say that people will be fined up to £10,000 if they break quarantine rules.

Yesterday, travellers shared images of the 'inedible' food being served at a £1,750 quarantine hotel in central London and told how they are being held in 'prison-like' conditions and deprived of exercise.  

Some passengers staying at the President Hotel, in Guilford Road, London, after arriving from 'red list' countries, described their stay as a 'nightmare' and claimed they were staying in prison-like' conditions. 

Garikayi Madzudzo made an official complaint regarding the quality of food to Imperial London Hotels, the company behind the three star President Hotel.

He said he had been forced to order food and drink from other outlets as what was offered to him did not meet 'acceptable food standards'.

His complaint read: 'As you can see from the pictures of the meals provided, the portions and the quality of food is way, way below standard.

'It neither provides the required nutrition nor is it balanced to promote healthy living, bearing in mind this is being served to an adult who is being deprived of regular exercise because the hotel is full and available security staff are struggling to cope with the demand to take people outside for their 15mins of exercise.

'The standards that this facility is operating on are unacceptable and do not equate to the £1750 that l was charged.

 'This hotel has failed in meeting acceptable food standards.'

Mr Madzudzo, along with several other travellers, shared pictures of the food they were provided by the hotel - including a small muffin, baked beans, lunchbox-sized carton of apple juice and a single hash brown for breakfast.

Lunch was a pie with a small serving of beef gravy and potato, while dinner had two sausages, some mashed potato and peas.

Elsewhere, Puneet, 39, and his wife Priyanka, 37, from Edinburgh, who travelled to Chhattishgarh in India to attend Priyanka's mother's funeral after she died in April, shared their family's 'awful' experience in a hotel quarantine in London. 

This week passengers staying at the President Hotel, in Guilford Road, London, described their stay as a 'nightmare' and complained about the quality of the food 

Those quarantining in President Hotel, London shared their concerns over the 'prison-like' conditions and 'inedible' food on offer this week

The family flew back to London on 4 June and made their way to the hotel Corporate Travel Management had booked for their 10-day quarantine, the Park Plaza in Waterloo, at the price of £2,400.

IN FULL: The UK's new travel green list 

All changes will come into effect from Wednesday, June 30 at 4am:

The UK Government will move the following countries to the red list from June 30:

But the family claim the experience was a nightmare from start to finish.

Priyanka and Puneet claimed families were only allowed 15 minutes of fresh air per day and were stuffed into a 'claustrophobic' room with their children and offered meals that gave their children a vomiting bug.

The hotel denied their claims and says it has not been informed by 'the medical support team of any guests suffering from stomach bugs related to food served.' 

The latest hotel quarantine experiences come after furious travel bosses yesterday insisted the government's changes to the green list did not go far enough, and that dozens more countries with low infection rates should have been added.

Grant Shapps announced this week that the Balearic islands - Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca - along with Madeira, Grenada, Barbados, and Bermuda had all been downgraded from amber to green.

It means holidaymakers will be able to return from these countries without being forced into quarantine for 10 days when arriving back in the UK. 

The Transport Secretary also said the Government would allow those who are double-jabbed to holiday in amber list countries without having to quarantine on their return - but this is still weeks away, with the rule not likely to come in until July at the earliest.

But the announcements drew criticism from some airlines, with easyJet saying it 'simply isn't ambitious enough', while Virgin Atlantic chief Shai Weiss also criticised the decision to leave the US on the UK's amber list, saying: 'Today's announcement fails to go far enough.' 

Meanwhile, Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, told the BBC: 'We cannot afford another missed summer. There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from family members and we cannot afford to allow the success of our vaccine programme to be wasted.'

It came as others across the beleaguered travel sector voiced similar concerns. The Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said the Government's 'overly cautious' approach would continue to have 'major financial impacts' on the sector.

'Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic,' she said. 

It comes as six countries including Tunisia and Haiti will be put on the UK's travel red list - meaning only UK citizens and those with residency status can travel from here and must stay in quarantine hotels for 10 days.

Israel and Jerusalem, which have been on the UK's travel green list since its inception, will be added to the 'green watch list'.

Others in this category - which signals that a country might be moved to the amber list in the near future - include Antigua, the Balearic Islands, Barbados and Grenada. 

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