he first people forced to isolate in quarantine hotels in the UK have embraced their “sweet freedom” after being allowed to leave.
From last Monday, UK and Irish nationals returning to England from a “red list” country deemed high risk for Covid-19 have had to self-isolate in hotels for 10 days.
Hotel “guests” were made to pay £1,750 to cover the stay and faced fines to up to £10,000 or 10 years in prison if they walked out.
Businessman Wayne Kelly, 37, from Birmingham, has been in quarantine at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel near Heathrow Airport and was due to be one of the first to leave.
Speaking while still in the hotel he said he felt “like I have been through a prison sentence” and said he could not wait to see his wife and children.
He told MailOnline: “I was thinking of having a poster on the wall where I could just cross one day off each day.
“I just want to go back to Birmingham to my home and my family and put this all behind me. I should never have been here in the first place. I had a negative test when I left Dubai.”
Zari Tadayon, 68, had been visiting family in Dubai when she was put into quarantine and was leaving the Radisson Blu this morning.
She told the Standard: “I can’t wait to see my family it’s been a long ten days but it’s been tolerable.”
Mrs Tadayon, who lives in London, added: “The food was ok and I got my head down and made myself busy but that’s enough now. For people who were not so good alone it was difficult.”
Farai Musasike, 27, an architecture assistant from London, told the Standard he couldn’t believe he was free as he left the Radisson Blu hotel after ten days in quarantine.
He had travelled from Doha to Heathrow and was bussed straight to the hotel on arrival. He left on Friday morning in a taxi giving the thumbs-up sign.
He told the Standard: “I can’t believe I’m free, sweet freedom.
“It’s been a difficult time and has cost a lot of money. I’ve been gaming most of the time.
“I had no symptoms and knew I didn’t have coronavirus so was annoyed to have to pay to stay in the hotel. It was very frustrating to be honest. The food was ok, nutritious but samey. I’m so relieved to be out.”
Travellers arriving in England must quarantine in a hotel if they have been to one of the Government’s 33 “red list” countries – which includes Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, South America and southern Africa – in the past 10 days.
The UK has banned direct flights from those locations, so passengers must take connecting flights, mixing with passengers from countries not on the list.
Last week, the Prime Minister said he expects those in quarantine to be able to “cover their costs” when asked what happens if a person has to extend their stay after a positive test.
Boris Johnson said: “It is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays anyway.
“We would expect people who are coming in from one of these red list countries to be able to cover their costs.”