19 May 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Compulsory quarantine – so right but in so many ways so badly thought out
Adrian Leopard 409

Compulsory quarantine – so right but in so many ways so badly thought out

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There has been so much “last minute thinking” during the running of the pandemic. This policy must be top of the list for that!

Things are really hotting up now with coronavirus what with variations and mutations. Where would we be if there were no vaccinations taking place?

There are many who wonder why enforced quarantine was not continued when the pandemic first started. Do you remember the people from the cruise ships and other places who got back to the UK were promptly shuffled into compulsory accommodation pending completion of a suitable period of quarantine? Why on earth did they stop it?

Well now we have it back again but really whoever is behind putting the scheme together has made a real hash of it. This is causing all sorts of ill feeling and revealing, even after just three days, many defects in the system. The present scheme is really just a “blunt instrument” and could have been managed so much better. Moreover it is going to go on for some time – do not believe this is just a short term policy.

There is a most extraordinary article in today’s Daily Mail and if you fancy going through it in detail, here it is:

However, for those less inclined to wade through it, it brings to mind a large number of issues which ought to be addressed.

Unfortunately I have little sympathy for the individuals who have been caught up in the quarantine who are bleating about being “punished” and running the gauntlet by not complying with the rules. The fact of the quarantine has been well publicised and for a lengthy period – indeed many have complained that it was taking too long to implement.

However, it is all very fine subjecting one class of people, passengers from “Red List” countries, to quarantine in a hotel but how is this going to be effective once they have mixed with everyone else? They go to the same airport of departure as other passengers - they are not segregated. Then they get on the same aeroplane as other passengers – they are not segregated and then on arrival in the UK, they all go on the same bus together and through the same border control area together and even then they are not properly segregated. So the reality is that there is plenty of opportunity for these high risk people to transfer their highly transmissible virus to everyone else who can then merrily go and distribute it around the country.

Isn’t this a complete nonsense? Surely the only way to handle this quarantining is the Scottish way – everyone but everyone goes into enforced quarantine, no exceptions. Then it matters less whether they mix or not. So I believe the message to the government ought to be quarantine everyone and create a green list for the exceptions, if any.

Now so far so good. A compulsory quarantine system but the government has chosen to make it happen in hotels – actually a very good idea because it could help to bring funds into a beleaguered industry which needs them. Where I feel this goes off the rails is the singular lack of choice for a fixed fee which hugely exceeds what might be payable if the guests were paying for their stay in the usual way. There ought to be a choice of hotel and the price should be transparent. Moreover the service provided by whichever hotel it is ought to be commensurate with its normal service, catering and all.

It is unbelievable that four star hotels are serving meals in take-away cardboard containers and with, in some cases, insufficient food for the guests to have a satisfying meal. Moreover the limited menu choices shown at some hotels are frankly inadequate and insulting and quite unrepresentative of their normal service. The guest is still a hotel guest, even if one who is required to be there and remain shut away.

Oh and there are complaints about laundry – one hotel allows a ration of seven items a week. Is that three and a half pairs of socks?

Now it may well be that only the “bad cases” are hitting the news; bad news travels whereas good news gets less publicity. However, there should be no inadequacy of quality or quantity of food in a good hotel – whoever negotiated these deals at a fixed price of £1750. And we have now learned that if an individual tests positive for Covid-19, then their stay is extended at a further cost of £152 per day – for how long? Until they get better? Until they die? Until they are rushed off to hospital critically ill? And who will look after them if they fall ill in the hotel? None of this appears to be clear. After all it is to “catch” the ill that the scheme has been brought into force so what do they propose to do with them?

Then we have the farcical situation of people needing a “fag break”. If people must smoke, they must smoke but when you confine them to a non-smoking room with a penalty of £250 for breaking the rules, yes there will have to be some sort of facility. This could have been foreseen and perhaps arrangements could have been better organised, or perhaps some hotels should simply agree to smoking in the rooms – after all they are paying enough for it, including the security guards who have to accompany them while they smoke in the fresh air.

Perhaps hotels with balconies should have been selected; the complaints suggest that the hotels have allocated their worst rooms for these enforced visits. Most have windows which cannot be opened and many with dreadful views.

But why is the cost £175 per day? How is this made up? A quick look at reveals that there are cheaper hotels even with food included, decent food probably. And let us not forget that hotels which are open have to cater for potential Covid-19 carriers anyway.

I think they can do better. After all if you are staying in a hotel for ten days, why should this not be a pleasant experience? It is a hotel’s job to look after its guests so they would like to come and stay again. Hotels in this scheme making themselves like prisons are probably not going to encourage return visits.

Adrian Leopard 17-02-21

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