Government facing legal action over ‘unlawful’ hotel quarantine policy

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A second judicial review is being sought by PGMBM for the Government’s controversial hotel quarantine policy. The Government could end up paying tens of millions of pounds in compensation if they do not change their approach.

In July 2021, in the first phase of the judicial review, PGMBM forced the Government into a U-turn on hotel quarantine costs for those facing financial hardship.

Now, we believe that the policy of detaining people for 10 days in a hotel, despite being fully vaccinated in the UK and having tested negative on their return, is an ‘unlawful deprivation of liberty’ and violates fundamental human rights.

As well as compensation, the Government could also be forced to refund the fees of all those who have been already unlawfully forced to quarantine in hotels despite having been double vaccinated.

PGMBM would like to note that we acknowledge the importance of safeguarding public health, but we argue that forcibly detaining fully vaccinated people returning to the UK from Red List countries is unlawful when the Government has shifted to “learning to live with the virus” and lifted almost all legally mandated society-wide restrictions.

Tom Goodhead, Managing Partner of PGMBM, said:

“Mandatory hotel quarantine is a fundamental breach of human rights. It has led to the false imprisonment of people who are fully vaccinated and have tested negative.

“Prisoners are entitled to more liberty than those forced to quarantine in hotels. We have all read about the horrific experiences of some of the people in these hotels. We want to see this draconian policy scrapped and those affected to be properly compensated.”

“The only other European countries that have mandatory quarantine for travellers involving detention are Ireland and Norway. But, both have amended their schemes so that fully vaccinated travellers do not need to quarantine. The UK must follow suit immediately.”

There have been increasing reports of negative experiences of people being detained in quarantine including sexual harassment and poor conditions such as rodent infestations.

The cost is £1,750 for a single adult, rising to £2,285 on 12 August.

Tom Goodhead, added:

“Many of the people who get in touch with us are not travelling to or from Red List countries for holidays or for leisure. They are often travelling for emergency or urgent reasons and would not be travelling unless they felt it was absolutely necessary. They should not be detained in this way if they are fully vaccinated and have tested negative.”

PGMBM have issued a letter before claim to the Government. The letter before claim specifically highlights:

Mandatory Hotel Quarantine is not proportionate

– whereas the amendments appropriately take account of vaccination to ensure proportionality in relation to Amber List travellers, there is no change in relation to treatment of fully vaccinated Red List travellers. The failure to alter the requirements is disproportionate.

Mandatory Hotel Quarantine is not necessary 

– an Amber List traveller who has been fully vaccinated need not quarantine at all unless they test positive on Day 2 of their return. The regulations therefore acknowledge the much lower risk profile of fully-vaccinated persons. Given that lower risk profile, it is not necessary for such persons to be subject to Mandatory Hotel Quarantine when they return from Red List countries.

It is arbitrary, unnecessary, and disproportionate to impose Mandatory Hotel Quarantine on a person

– Specifically those who are (i) fully vaccinated; and (ii) tests negative for the virus, merely because they arrive from a Red List country.

This is particularly the case when those who pose a greater threat to public health are subject to a less restrictive interference on their right to liberty such as those who test positive and can isolate at home

Mandatory Hotel Quarantine is imposed for longer than necessary

– an unvaccinated Amber List traveller may bring their self-isolation to an end after five days if they test negative. This acknowledges that even if self-isolation is justified, testing after five days can confirm that a person does not threaten public health.

The deprivation of Red List travellers’ liberty beyond five days is unjustified on this ground alone.

The challenge is brought on behalf of representative clients whose identities have been withheld to protect their privacy.

For more information, or interview requests, please contact [email protected].

PGMBM (a trading name of Excello Law Limited) – SRA License Number 512898

Excello Law is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and complies with the Solicitors Code of Conduct, a copy of which can be located here.

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