Hotel workers fear they will be at an increased risk of catching Covid at quarantine sites for travellers arriving in the UK unless proper safety measures are put in place, unions warn
- Unite want all hotels to put proper safety measures in place to protect staff
- The union encouraged its members to report any breaches of health and safety
- People arriving in Britain from red list countries have to quarantine for ten days
Hotel workers are afraid they will be at an increased risk of catching coronavirus from travellers arriving at quarantine sites across the UK, unions have warned.
Unite want all hotels used to house travellers arriving in the UK to put proper safety measures in place and the union has encouraged its members to report and challenge any breaches of health and safety.
Under the new rules, people arriving in Britain from 22 countries on the so-called ‘Red List’ will have to quarantine in Government selected hotels for 10 days.
Portugal is the only European country on the list, though there are fears it could be extended with Home Secretary Priti Patel thought to favour closing borders to new arrivals completely.
Unite want all hotels used to house travellers arriving in the UK to put proper safety measures in place to protect staff. Pictured, people at Heathrow Airport
Under the new rules, people arriving in Britain from 22 countries on the so-called ‘Red List’ will have to quarantine in Government selected hotels for 10 days (file image)
If the ban is extended, only British and Irish nationals, long-term visa holders and residents will be able to enter the country, though they’ll then have to immediately quarantine at hotels.
Unite said official figures showed hospitality workers including chefs and pub managers were at a greater risk of dying from Covid-19 than average.
The high toll was a result of a ‘toxic combination’ of insufficient sick pay, unscrupulous employment practices, a failure to maintain social distancing and a lack of PPE, claimed Unite.
Assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: ‘Once again it appears that the Government is more interested in chasing headlines then considering the welfare of workers.
If the ban is extended, only British and Irish nationals, long-term visa holders and residents will be able to enter the country, though they’ll then have to immediately quarantine at hotels. Pictured, a passenger arriving at Heathrow today
‘It is all very well announcing that you are creating quarantine hotels but the Government also has a strict duty of care to ensure that workers in these facilities are safe and the hotels are completely Covid-secure.
What places require a ten-day quarantine in a hotel after?
Democratic Republic of Congo
Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
‘Far too many workers have already died in the hospitality sector and it would be absolutely shameful if stringent rules are not in place ensuring workers’ safety before the doors open to any quarantine hotel.
‘As a minimum requirement, to acknowledge the risks involved, the Government should ensure that any hotels selected for this work undertake to pay workers in full if they are required to self-isolate or develop Covid-19.’
Unite hospitality organiser Bryan Simpson said its members needed protections against the virus. He added: ‘The use of quarantine hotels may seem like a quick fix for the Government in a desperate attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19.
‘Yet our members in the hotel sector are fearful that they may be put at increased risk without comprehensive protections being in place.
‘Every quarantine hotel must be entirely Covid-secure, a requirement which ensures that the guests and all the hotel staff are able to socially distance at all times and that other Covid measures are also rigorously applied.’
It comes after travellers at London’s St Pancras station headed to France hit out at the rules and claimed they would not come back to Britain if they have to quarantine.
France isn’t on the list but Ms Patel singled out Britons travelling to Paris from St Pancras to ski in a fiery speech yesterday.
Charlotte, 23, who has lived in the UK for 10 years and is studying Art Law, travels to France regularly to visit her family.
Charlotte said: ‘Well I won’t be coming back if there’s the 10 day hotel quarantine.
‘It’s too expensive. I’d be happy to declare why I’m travelling but I wouldn’t travel if I had to stay in a hotel.
‘It’s the financial thing. To be fair I wouldn’t travel anywhere during lockdown, it’s just my parents live in Paris.
‘I think the 10 days works in places like Australia and islands like Guernsey, but not here. It’s good for those who can make the effort because the travel industry can get an income from it.’
Jules Coles, 22, from Hampstead, north London, who was travelling to see his family near Paris and will be returning next week, said: ‘To be honest, it should have happened before I believe.’
At Heathrow terminal 5 this morning, people were generally accepting of the new restrictions and information that they now have to give to the authorities
Priti Patel was facing a furious backlash from Tory MPs and airlines today over her ‘shambolic’ holiday ban announcement amid fears it will leave airport staff facing the full anger of travellers.
They accused the Home Secretary of launching a broadside at Instagram influencers and holidaymakers after being ‘humiliated’ over her attempts to close the UK border completely to foreign arrivals.
She read the riot act to would-be travellers last, warning that people on fake work jaunts and social media attention-seekers heading for sunny destinations will be turned away from airports.
But foreign travel – apart from some exceptions – has been illegal since the lockdown law was passed on January 5. There was also confusion today over what would constitute an acceptable journey abroad and who would police the policy.
Pablod Villacampo, 19, in his second year of biochemistry studies, is going to visit his father in Lyon, and will not be coming back if travel regulations get any stricter
Charlotte, 23, is visiting her family in France. She said she won’t be returning to the UK if she has to isolate in a hotel
One angry airline source told MailOnline enforcing the restrictions would ‘present challenges’ amid fears check-in staff will be told to make judgements on what constitutes a legitimate journey.
Michel Gove added to the anger this morning by suggesting people might not be allowed to go abroad even for legitimate work trips.
The senior Cabinet minister said that there needed to be a ‘powerful business reason’ to leave the UK and that such journeys would be reviewed on a ‘case-by-‘case basis.
Fines for holidays with police checking your passport at the airport
How can the Government stop Britons from going on holiday?
Lockdown rules already ban people from international travel unless it is for work. Leaving home is only permitted for a small number of reasons.
Under the lockdown laws introduced at the start of January and which will run until March 31, people in England are allowed only to leave the house for a very slim range of activities.
But the rules, which are largely the same as for the second lockdown in November, also ban foreign leisure travel, just as they prohibit domestic leisure travel.
What happens if I want to travel abroad?
People wanting to leave the UK will have to fill out a form giving the reason for their trip.
Anyone who turns up at ports and airports without a valid reason for travel will be directed to return home and may face a fine.
Priti Patel said today: ‘Going on holiday is not a valid reason, so we will introduce a new requirement so that people wishing to travel must first make a declaration as to why they need to travel.
‘This reason for travel will be checked by carriers prior to departure.’
Travel operators are also expected to face fines if they fail to inspect these forms.
What will I have to prove if I went to travel?
Work trips are allowed, so you will have to show some proof that your flight or sea crossing is vital for your employment.
However, there are a range of other reasons for ‘essential travel.
These are the same at the reasons for leaving your house: medical care, to escape harm, compassionate visits – for example a funeral – and weddings.
The list of travel exemptions will be urgently reviewed so that only the most important and exceptional reasons are included.
Who is going to enforce these rules?
It is not clear whether airlines and other travel operators will have the unilateral ability to decide whether someone has given a genuine reason for a trip on their forms, or it will end up being referred to police. There will also be an increased police presence at ports and airports, fining those in breach of the stay at home regulations.
Why is this being highlighted now?
The Home Secretary lashed out at social media influencers who have been posting images of themselves in sunny parts of the world like Dubai during the lockdown.
Many have claimed they were travelling for work, but have attracted a backlash from people stuck at home after also enjoying the nightlife and beaches.
Ms Patel also singled out people ‘turning up with their skis’ at London’s St Pancras station to catch the Eurostar to European resorts, adding: ‘That is clearly not acceptable.’
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