Hotel firm criticises delayed plan for new quarantine policy

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

A major hotel chain boss has criticised the Government’s delay in releasing details of its new quarantine policy for international arrivals.

Best Western chief executive Rob Paterson said his firm has been “kept in the dark” and if he announced a major programme with no details, “I’m not sure I’d have a job”.

UK nationals and residents returning from “red list” countries will be kept in quarantine hotels for 10 days to slow the spread of new coronavirus strains.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the Commons on January 27 the Government would “set out further details” this week.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out the “operational elements of this policy” next week.

Mr Paterson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Best Western is “yet to understand exactly what the protocols are required of the hotels”.

He said: “I think in any normal company if you went out and announced a programme nationally, and you hadn’t thought about how you were going to plan that, and you hadn’t spoken to the people involved, I’m not sure I’d have a job if I did that in my company.

“To this day we simply haven’t heard anything despite multiple offers.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“We’ve got all these contacts in other countries that have already rolled this out for some time. They could offer some really valuable support and we’re just simply kept in the dark.”

Mr Paterson added that hoteliers “need some assurance” over demand levels, pricing and security measures.

Asked whether he was frustrated by the delay in implementing the tighter border restrictions, Mr Zahawi commented: “No, because it is one part of a greater piece.

“(There is) the passenger locator form – you will be refused by the airlines to get on a flight if you haven’t filled in a passenger locator form – so we know exactly where you are, so we can check where you are and that you are quarantined, and you get fined – and I make no apology for the 40,000 fines that we’ve issued already.

“As I say, it is one part and next week you will have the operational plan for how we are implementing the hotel quarantine.”

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