After being forced to postpone their South African return, a couple has attacked Britain’s Covid travel program as a “shambles”.
Owen Hancock (35) and Emily Mennie (30) from Tooting (London), were “frustrated” by the ban on flights and Heathrow’s quarantine hotel being full.
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 in London were both ‘frustrated” when they were told that flights had been banned, Heathrow’s quarantine was full, and Heathrow closed its doors to new passengers.
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)
Mrs Mennie was born in South Africa and Mr Hancock visited them for the first-ever time since Covid nearly two years ago.
The couple left November 18, and planned to return to Heathrow on Saturday, but the hotel had no rooms available.
They received an automated message from the company saying that there was no date available due to customer demand.
The message added, “Please change your travel dates as soon as possible or search for another destination later in the day.”
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.
According to the couple, they are furious at Omicron policymakers for not allowing them time home and putting South Africa on Omicron’s red list.
Because they had no other choice but to reschedule and pay quarantine, the claimants claimed that the government must fund the flights.
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.
“We get hit with an enormous cost and can’t go home because the government hasn’t gotten its act together. It’s chaos.”
Mrs Mennie was born in South Africa. Mr Hancock, who is now living in the United States, visited her family to see them for the first-time since Covid’s attack nearly two years ago.
They expect the trip will leave them with a large hole in their pockets. The burden of quarantine at the hotel is expected to make it difficult to get a credit card.
Mr Hancock said: ‘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 said, “We are aware that we must pay the quarantine bill. But we feel it unfair and disappointed.”
When the Omicron supervariant was discovered, last Thursday, the UK ban direct flights to South Africa.
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’.
They have shown understanding from their bosses and work remotely, so they aren’t too affected by the changes.
They plan to read a lot during quarantine, and to play crosswords to pass the time.
Mrs Mennie stated that she hoped to be able get some of her stuff delivered to the hotel so they have what they need.
Ms Hancock said, “But it is so uncertainly about the actual operation in quarantine hotel.”
Last Thursday Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed a temporary flight ban from South Africa over the weekend.
He stated that public safety was his priority. This precautionary measure is being taken to safeguard the nation’s progress in beating the virus. We will continue to review our actions.
Scientists have discovered that the Omicron Covid mutation has been found. Although little is known, it raises concerns about how vaccines might be avoided.
UK has made mandatory that all people wearing facemasks must wear in public places and shops.