Couple held at quarantine airport against will despite being exempt

Couple held at quarantine airport against will despite being exempt

The great quarantine escape: Couple who were ‘held against their will’ at Heathrow airport hotel on returning from Turkey with just a doctor’s note claiming they were ‘medically exempt’ reveal they BROKE OUT at 3am

  • Lisa Marcelle, 56, and Ricky Cassidy, 58, from Wiltshire, flew to Turkey May 1st for emergency dental operation
  • Turkey went onto ‘red list’ and couple were turned away at gate for return flight
  • Flights rescheduled for June 22nd and had medical exemption certificate by a Turkish doctor, which they hoped would mean they wouldn’t have to quarantine on their arrival at Heathrow
  • On return, couple claim had to stay for 10 days at Renaissance Hotel near airport
  • They turned up with just letter and hadn’t applied for proper exemption online 

A couple who flew to Turkey for an emergency dental operation and claim they were held against their will at Heathrow airport hotel on returning from Turkey with just a doctor’s note claiming they were ‘medically exempt’ have told how they broke out at 3am. 

Lisa Marcelle, 56, and Ricky Cassidy, 58, from Wiltshire, had flown out to Turkey hassle free on May 1st, so Ricky could get an emergency dental operation and were due to travel back a week later – on May 8th.

But, after having problems with completing passenger locator forms due to there being no internet available at the airport, and because Turkey had just gone onto the ‘red list’, they were turned away at the gate. 

They returned again later after booking flights via the Netherlands but were told by Turkish airline staff that the Netherlands were no longer accepting British citizens and they were turned away again. 

The couple’s flights were then rescheduled for June 22nd, meaning they had to return to the hotel they’d been staying at, which had been paid for up to May 8th by the Turkish dental company – and book in for an extra six weeks.

Lisa Marcelle, 56, and Ricky Cassidy, 58, from Wiltshire, had flown out to Turkey hassle-free on May 1st, so Ricky could get an emergency dental operation and were due to travel back a week later – on May 8th. Pictured, in Turkey

Upon their return, Lisa (pictured) and Ricky were told they had to stay for 10 days at the Renaissance Hotel near the airport

The couple refused, telling airline staff that they were exempt and showing proof of that in the form of the exemption certificate the Turkish doctor had given them. They also stated they’d had two negative PCR tests, but the staff weren’t convinced and called the police. Pictured, the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel

‘A girl called Yagmur Sahin, the nurse at Dr Ozan Guner dental practice in Izmir, supported me throughout our stay,’ explained Lisa. ‘The unpredictability of the situation escalated so Yagmur suggested we move to a hotel in Cesme Izmir which was £40 a night. 

She sent me medication and tea bags and later came to visit us in Cesme as I was not feeling too good. She organised all transport during our stay and helped us fill out our passenger locator forms.’

As June 22nd approached, the couple prepared for their return home. 

In Turkey, they were given a medical exemption certificate by a Turkish doctor, which they hoped would mean they wouldn’t have to quarantine on their arrival at Heathrow.

However, the couple didn’t apply properly  for a quarantine exemption and turned up with just the letter. 

According to the government website: ‘There are some very limited instances where you might be able to get an exemption from needing to enter managed quarantine. These exemptions are exceptional and limited, and you will need evidence to support your request…

‘You must apply for an exemption at least 14 days ahead of travel so the evidence can be assessed, and an exemption granted.

The couple claim they were told they were not allowed to leave the hotel apart from their allotted 20 minute exercise session per day 

If you do not apply for an exemption 14 days before travel, it may not be possible to grant one in advance of travel and you will need to book and pay to enter a managed quarantine facility on arrival.’ 

Upon their return, Lisa and Ricky claim they were told they had to stay for 10 days at the Renaissance Hotel near the airport. 

The couple – who have five grown-up children between them – refused, telling airline staff that they were exempt and showing what they thought was proof in the form of the exemption certificate the Turkish doctor had given them.

They also claim they stated they’d had two negative PCR tests, but say the staff weren’t convinced and called the police.

‘We told the police that we did not comply to being kidnapped and falsely imprisoned,’ claimed former community care worker Lisa. 

‘I then started to feel my heart race and felt a panic attack coming on. A paramedic was called.’

‘My blood pressure was sky high but nothing was done about it.’

After arguing with the police for two hours, they claim were told to hand over their passports. 

‘Ricky refused,’ said Lisa. ‘But we were told that our passports were the property of the state and they were confiscated. 

Our details were then entered into the computerised hotel quarantine system and we were ‘escorted’ by the pistol-toting cops onto a hotel-bound bus. We were the only passengers on the bus – us and three security guards.’

Lisa (pictured) said the room was comfortable despite the windows being sealed shut and the bad quality air conditioning giving her a sore throat

Despite being unable to pay the standard £1,750 fee each, the couple claim they were taken to a small room on the 3rd floor, told they were not allowed to leave the hotel apart from their allotted 20 minute exercise session per day and were ordered to wear masks if they left their room. 

‘Ricky is exempt from wearing a mask, but the guards told us that if he didn’t wear one in communal areas of the hotel, he’d be banned from leaving the room,’ claimed Lisa. 

What conditions must be met to qualify for a medical exemption 

An exemption will only be granted where: 

– The existing medical condition or vulnerability is severe 

– Sufficient evidence is provided that the needs of the individual cannot be met either through the provision at the managed quarantine facility, or from a household member joining the individual in managed quarantine

– The medical condition or vulnerability will worsen in managed quarantine to such a significant degree that emergency treatment may become necessary

– Clinical evidence is supplied, providing clear evidence of existing treatment and conditions, explaining the risk to the patient – and this evidence must be satisfactory to the assessor 

– Any evidence provided in support of the application for an exemption is provided from a registered and suitably qualified healthcare professional with direct oversight of the individual’s care and provision for that condition – we do not generally expect this to be provided by your GP or equivalent in other countries 

Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/exemptions-from-managed-quarantine-for-medical-and-compassionate-reasons 

Lisa was still feeling ill – she has a history of heart problems, mobility issues due to cervical spondylosis and an anxiety disorder – and she felt on the brink of having a panic attack.

‘Ricky was suffering too as he has a cyst in front lobal area of his brain and this causes behavioural problems,’ she added.

Despite the couple not having signed any agreement or paid any money, they were trapped in the quarantine hotel. 

‘There were guards on every floor,’ said self-employed builder Ricky. ‘We felt intimidated and scared. We didn’t know what to do. We were imprisoned and being treated like criminals, even though we’d done nothing wrong. We just wanted to go home.’

Lisa called her GP in Wroughton, but the GP wasn’t available to speak to her. After persuading security guards to let her out for a walk around the fenced off car park, Lisa was able to calm down and gather her thoughts. 

‘I made a short video on my phone,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t really believe what was happening. We were being held against our will and couldn’t escape. Even the car park fencing had barbed wire around the top. How had we got caught up in this nightmare?’

Back in the room – which according to Lisa, was comfortable despite the windows being sealed shut and the bad quality air conditioning giving her a sore throat – the couple settled down for the night but couldn’t sleep. Lisa decided to write a post about their ordeal on Facebook. 

The next day, they were in contact with a lawyer, who gave them some advice on how to leave lawfully.

The following evening, they booked a taxi for 3am and packed their bags. As they strode confidently – as per their lawyer’s advice – through the corridors, they encountered a guard, who offered to carry their cases for them.

‘Because we were outwardly acting so cool and confident despite being terrified inside, he obviously thought we were leaving ‘legally’ after doing our ‘time’,’ said Lisa.

In the hotel lobby, however, the couple allege they were confronted by five more security guards. 

‘They stood in front of us and asked us what we were doing, but we just told them to back off,’ said Ricky. ‘I then told them in a very firm tone to not touch us, then Lisa bid them goodnight.’

When the couple’s flights were rescheduled for June 22nd, they had to return to the hotel they’d been staying at, which had been paid for up to May 8th by the Turkish dental company – and book in for an extra six weeks (pictured)

Lisa continued: ‘I was sure they’d follow us but they didn’t. I made a video while we hid behind a bush waiting for the taxi. I was a nervous wreck. Once we were in the taxi though, I wasn’t scared any more – just relieved.’

Since they’ve been home, they’ve had a couple of knocks on their door but have not felt up to answering.

‘If the police want to talk to us, that’s fine,’ said Lisa. ‘They can call any time. After talking to our lawyer, we know our rights. People cannot have their liberty taken away if they’ve not committed a crime – it’s as simple as that. And Ricky and I have not committed a crime.’

Lisa continued: ‘Since we’ve been home, there have been no repercussions. I was worried we might be in trouble but it’s been fine. There was a knock on the door the day we got home but I was in bed, exhausted, and too tired to answer it. But, apart from that, nothing.

It just goes to show what a ridiculous charade the whole quarantine hotel thing is. It’s just a way of the government trying to make money out of healthy, innocent, gullible people.’   

A Met Police spokesperson said: ‘Police were called on 22 June at approximately 17:50hrs to an incident involving two passengers who had arrived at Heathrow Airport from Turkey, and who were said to be refusing to attend a quarantine hotel.

‘Officers from the Met’s Aviation Policing Command attended and reiterated the requirements for all people arriving from ‘red list’ countries to attend quarantine hotels. One of the passengers – a woman in her 60s – complained of feeling unwell and an ambulance was called. Paramedics attended and the woman required no further treatment. Both passengers were then conveyed to the quarantine hotel and no further police action was required.’

‘Most uniformed officers based within the Met’s Aviation Command are routinely armed. The officers attending this call did not withdraw their weapons at any point during this incident.’

A spokesperson for Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel said: ‘No comment.’  

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