At PGMBM we are passionate about championing justice and ensuring fairness for all. Our judicial review of the hotel quarantine is no exception to this.
Following the news that from 15 February the UK Government intended to enforce a mandatory hotel quarantine policy on British and Irish citizens and residents returning to England from so-called ‘red list’ countries (the ‘Policy’), we felt compelled to launch a legal challenge to ensure that the Policy receives judicial scrutiny.
Unlawful Government actions
Notably, the Policy was announced on 9 February, was made and laid before Parliament on 12 February and came into force zero working days later on 15 February, thus arguably receiving very limited parliamentary scrutiny.
Whilst we appreciate the seriousness of the pandemic and the importance of regulating the spread of the virus both in the UK and globally, we believe that by charging British and Irish citizens and residents an upfront fee of £1,750 per person for their 10-day hotel quarantine stay, and by failing to put in place any adequate exemptions for those from low-income backgrounds, the Government has acted unlawfully and has failed to have regard to the impact on those who cannot afford to pay.
Far-reaching implications of hotel quarantine
PGMBM believes that this policy has far-reaching implications for thousands of citizens and residents who either travelled before the Policy was in place or who travelled for legitimate family, health or work-related reasons and are simply wishing to return home to continue their regular lives, resume work and reunite with their family.
By requiring citizens and residents to pay almost £2,000 for a government-managed hotel when most already have a place of residence, the Government has imposed a policy that is both unreasonable and disproportionate.
It wrongly assumes that citizens and residents of this country are unable to follow the Government’s self-isolation guidelines and, most prominently, it disregards the UK’s obligations under the International Health Regulations 2005 (the ‘IHR’), an international instrument, which is binding on all World Health Organization Member States including the United Kingdom.
The IHR expressly prohibit the imposition of charges on travellers who are subject to quarantine requirements for public health reasons.
Furthermore, we believe that the Policy’s sanctioning scheme of a maximum fine of £10,000 for non-compliance with the quarantine rules and up to 10 years of imprisonment for failing to provide accurate details about countries visited on arrival into the UK is both threatening and excessive.
Hotel quarantine judicial review
By bringing a judicial review against an unlawful Government policy that particularly impacts those from low or no-income backgrounds, we hope to hold the Government accountable for its actions.
Therefore, this legal challenge is important to us and our values in that we are fighting to ensure that no one is prevented from returning home, resuming work, and exercising their right of abode because they are unable to afford the hotel quarantine charges.
This is why PGMBM decided to pursue the case on a pro bono basis and has been raising awareness about the challenge on social media.