'Inedible' food, tears and 20-minute daily walks around a car park - the grim reality of hotel quarantine

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‘Inedible’ food, tears and 20-minute daily walks around a car park – the grim reality of hotel quarantine

Cold food, people crying and requesting a 20-minute daily walk around a bleak car park isn't what most people would associate with a hotel stay.

But this is now the quarantine reality for people returning to the UK from South Africa.

One such couple serving time at one of the government-appointed hotels is Kate and Alex Freed.

After getting married in September, they booked their traditional post-nuptial trip to South Africa.

But the honeymoon period is well and truly over, stuck in an “awful” hotel overlooking Heathrow serving “inedible” food.

Perhaps the most grim condition is that they have to request to go for a walk outside.

A security guard accompanies them downstairs, and they are allowed 20 minutes in the hotel car park before being told they have to go back inside, the pair said.

Speaking on the third day of their 10-day quarantine period Mrs Freed, 29, said: “We’d been planning the South Africa trip for ages… we didn’t book it until the green list changed and the foreign travel advice was that it was safe to go to.”

Her 30-year-old husband added: “To be charged for coming back to your country when the Government’s told you it’s safe to go, I think is just wrong.”

The couple flew back from South Africa on Dec 2, after having their original flight home cancelled due to the travel ban.

It was the trip they'd dreamed of, having been forced to rearrange their wedding day four times due to Covid.

Alex and Kate Freed in South Africa on their honeymoon – PA

They said it took almost six hours to get from the plane at Heathrow to their hotel – the Holiday Inn Express at the airport's Terminal 4 – including waiting in a bus to be taken to their rooms.

“They put us onto a bus for the 30-second journey, but we were on the bus for three hours,” Mr Freed explained.

“We were on a bus full of people, (with) no ventilation.

“It was the most unorganised mess ever. People were crying. It just seemed like something from a film, it was a bit mad,” he added.

After arriving at the hotel itself, the pair said they had food and other supplies delivered by their family, because the hotel food is “inedible”.

The ‘inedible’ food served – PA

“You’re paying serious money and… it’s not substantial meals. Half the time it’s cold, half the time it’s just inedible,” Mr Freed said.

Travellers returning from red list countries originally faced a cost of £1,750 to quarantine in a hotel when the scheme was first announced in February.

The price has now risen to £2,285 for the 11-night stay.

“I’d rather pay for security outside my flat and they can watch me not leave”, Mrs Freed said.

“I don’t disagree with quarantine if that’s what the Government want to do… It’s just the cost that’s come with it,” she added.

“The way it is run is awful. I just feel something needs to be done about it,” Mr Freed said.

The Holiday Inn Express has been approached for comment.

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