Couple stuck in South Africa because Heathrow quarantine hotel is ‘FULLY BOOKED’: Pair faced with £4,000 bill for 10-day isolation blast ‘shambles’ keeping them in Omicron hotspot
A couple has blasted Britain’s Covid travel system as a ‘shambles’ after they were forced to delay their return from Suid-Afrika.
Owen Hancock, 35, and Emily Mennie, 30, from Tooting, Londen, were ‘frustrated’ when flights were banned and Heathrow’s quarantine hotel was fully booked.
The newlyweds, who both work in digital marketing, said they will have to use a credit card to pay off the mammoth £4,000 bill for ten days in isolation.
Owen Hancock, 35, and Emily Mennie, 30, from Tooting, Londen, were ‘frustrated’ when flights were banned and Heathrow’s quarantine hotel was fully booked
The newlyweds, who both work in digital marketing, said they will have to use a credit card to pay off the mammoth £4,000 bill for ten days in isolation (file photo of Heathrow)
Mr Hancock and Mrs Mennie, who was born in South Africa, were visiting her family for the first time since Covid struck nearly two years ago.
They left on November 18 and had planned their return into Heathrow for this Saturday – but there were no spare rooms in the quarantine hotel.
When they called, they got an automated message saying: ‘Unfortunately due to customer demand there is no availability for the date selected.’
Dit het bygevoeg: ‘Please rearrange your travel dates if possible, or try your search again later today.’
They said they were also on hold with British Airways for over three hours – which cost £100 – trying to make arrangements along with countless other passengers.
The couple said they were furious with policymakers for not giving them time to get home before slapping South Africa on the red list amid Omicron.
They claimed the government should fund their flights back because they were given no choice about rescheduling and the cost of the quarantine.
Mrs Mennie told MyLondon: ‘To add insult to a giant financial injury, now we can’t even book the hotel quarantine, because there are no rooms available.
‘Not only do we get slapped with a huge cost, we can’t get home now because the Government hasn’t got its act together – it’s a shambles.’
Mr Hancock and Mrs Mennie, who was born in South Africa, were visiting her family for the first time since Covid struck nearly two years ago
The pair are expecting the trip to blow a huge hole in their wallets, with the burden of hotel quarantine expected to force them to use a credit card.
Mnr Hancock het gesê: ‘As if it’s not stressful and unfair enough having to find the extortionate nearly £4,000 for hotel quarantine, now we are having to re-arrange PCR tests and flights because the UK government has imposed a policy which they can’t live up to.’
His wife added: ‘We understand we have to pay the quarantine bill but we do think its unfair and feel disappointed.’
The UK banned direct flights from South Africa when the Omicron super-variant was discovered last Thursday.
Passengers did have a window to fly in via a third country, but Mr Hancock and Mrs Mennie decided not to because ‘we didn’t think that was the right thing to do’.
Their bosses have been understanding and they work remotely so are not hugely affected by the changes.
The couple plan to read lots during quarantine and play cryptic crosswords to help pass the time.
Mrs Mennie said: ‘We are hoping that we may be able to get some of our stuff brought to us at the hotel just so we have stuff we need.
Ms Hancock added: ‘But there is so much uncertainly about how it actually will work in the quarantine hotel.’
Last Thursday Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed a temporary flight ban from South Africa over the weekend.
Hy het gesê: ‘Public safety is our priority. We’re taking this precautionary action to protect the progress we’ve made beating the virus across the country and as ever, we’ll continue to keep our measures under review.’
The Omicron Covid mutation was found by scientists earlier this month and while little is known about the new variant there are concerns it could evade vaccines.
The UK brought in mandatory face masks in shops and on public transport and people now have to take a PCR test and self isolate when arriving from abroad.