Woman says London quarantine hotel is 'worse than prison'

Bed and breakfast owner says London quarantine hotel where she was served crisps, sandwich and chocolate bar for evening meal is ‘worse than prison’

  • Jackie Burchell was isolating at the Crowne Plaza London hotel at King’s Cross
  • She had to return home from India where her husband was working in Chennai 
  • The Cornish B&B owner says she was not given food for several meals 
  • She also heard another guest crying when they were not given enough food  
  • Have you had a similar hotel experience? Email [email protected]

A woman who had to isolate in a London hotel for two weeks after returning from India says the experience was ‘worse than prison’.

Jackie Burchell was forced to isolate in the Crowne Plaza London hotel at King’s Cross after returning to the UK earlier this month.

Jackie and her husband Tony, working as director of the Metro Project in Chennai, had originally travelled to India before it went on the red list due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Jackie was forced to return to the UK so she could help staff who were struggling to run her business in her absence. 

Jackie is the co-owner of Elysian Fields Bed and Breakfast in Helston, Cornwall. 

Jackie Burchell had to go into quarantine after travelling back to the UK from India where her husband Tony has been working

Jackie Burchell was forced to isolate in the Crowne Plaza London hotel at King’s Cross

The Cornish B&B owner says she was not given food for several meals, and when they did arrive they were not sufficient. She claims she was given a packet of crisps, a sandwich and a chocolate bar for one evening meal, despite having issues with her blood sugar

‘We employ 14 people, but they need us there to guide them,’ Jackie said. 

‘I look after the B&B, they’re not there day and night, so I had no choice but to go back.’

Before her flight to London, Jackie was forced to isolate at a Hilton in India, which she described as ‘a nice experience’ despite being stuck inside the entire time.

‘We were allowed to upgrade the room so we had a suite, because my husband was working from the hotel, and the food we could order with room service, you were allowed out on the rooftop – you could even use the swimming pool.’

Upon arrival in London Jackie was met at the ‘cram packed’ airport, before being put on a bus without any distancing regulations in place.

When Jackie arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel she originally perceived it as being nice, with a seven-day selection of ‘really lovely sounding’ meals. But then, things changed.

After complaining to her husband Tony, he emailed their local Cornwall MP Derek Thomas about the conditions Jackie was putting up with, and she says they have since improved. Pictured: One of her other meals

Mandatory hotel quarantine: What travellers from ‘red list’ countries face when arriving in the UK

Travellers who come to the UK from ‘red list’ countries must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days and take multiple tests

Mandatory hotel quarantines were introduced for international passengers arriving from ‘red list’ countries on February 15. 

This includes high Covid risk countries such as Brazil, Dubai, Portugal and South Africa. 

The system was introduced in reaction to new variants of Covid that were seen in places such as Brazil and South Africa. 

Travellers must spend ten days in quarantine at their own cost if they return to the UK on direct flights from any of ‘red list’ locations. 

This costs a total of £1,750 for travellers.  

They must also take a coronavirus test on or before day two and day eight of quarantining, according to the government guidelines.  

Travellers are not allowed to shorten theor quarantine period if you receive a negative test result, but delays to testing kits and results could mean they face longer in quarantine. 

The government website states: ‘If you receive a positive result from your day-2 test, you must continue your quarantine period restarting the 10 days beginning the day after the test was taken.’

Anyone caught breaking the quarantine rules faces a penalty of up to £10,000. 

‘On the first day nothing came, and I assumed it was because my bus was late, and then lunch came at 5pm, no evening meal,’ she said.

While Jackie had been under the impression that she would be receiving the choices she had previously made, she was instead greeted by a packet of crisps, a sandwich and a chocolate bar, which was supposed to suffice until the morning.

After complaining to her husband Tony, he emailed their local Cornwall MP Derek Thomas about the conditions Jackie was putting up with.

Tony described how for breakfast, ‘a small box of cereal’ was served at 11am, and for lunch, Jackie received a pack of cheese sandwiches at 5pm. No dinner was offered on two evenings, they claimed.

They also claimed that Jackie was told to call reception if there were any issues, but that she was unable to get through for nearly two days.

‘If there was any emergency it could be extremely serious,’ Tony said.

Exercising was almost impossible, they added, while Tony also spoke of his concerns with Jackie’s health because she suffers from claustrophobia and has had blood sugar issues that require a regular and nutritional food intake.

Jackie recalled that at no point prior to her stay was she asked if he had any health issues.

She said she overheard that another guest had been ‘crying her eyes out’ because food had been delivered for her partner, and not for her.

‘If they want us to go into quarantine, at least give us food,’ Jackie said.

Derek Thomas has said that while quarantine is necessary to halt the spread of the Delta variant, it ‘should never be an ordeal’.

He added: ‘When I was told of the conditions one of my constituents was in, I immediately did all I could to intervene. 

‘I am in regular contact with her husband and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to ensure that her needs are met. 

‘Everyone’s health should be protected by quarantine, even and especially those in quarantine.’

Jackie has since said that her conditions have improved, and that she is in better spirits.

The Crowne Plaza London said it was unable to comment, adding that the approach to quarantine and hotel selection ‘is a matter for the DHSC’. 

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