Court orders UK govt to provide all facilities to quarantining British- Pakistani travellers
UK’s High Court (HC) has ordered the British government to provide suitable food and sufficient daily outdoor exercise facilities to British Pakistani travellers currently quarantining at the officially approved hotel near Heathrow airport.
Justice Henshaw in his order observed the government’s failure to fully comply with an earlier order of the court to address the genuine difficulties experienced by the families in the hotel designated as a quarantine centre. The judge also sought a report from the government legal department to notify the court on the steps which have been taken in pursuant to the court orders, within 2 days.
Leading Human Rights Barrister Zahab Jamali, a Partner at a London based Law firm , is representing over 10 stranded families (either in hotel quarantine or stuck abroad) has challenged the government’s harsh measures in the wake of travel restrictions and requirements of hotel quarantine for those travelling from various countries including Pakistan. One of the Claimant’s is a 10-year-old British child diagnosed with modern attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
In his legal submission, Barrister Zahab said the meals in the hotel are inadequate, especially for a child with ADHD. Worryingly, a family observing Ramadan have been served with bacon and pork burgers which they cannot eat due to their religious beliefs. The hotel has been advised of the Claimants’ religious beliefs and the importance of bringing meals at times that recognise that they are fasting during the day, but the hotel has not observed or respected this; as the hotel rooms do not have fridges or microwaves, the Claimants have been forced to eat cold food at night after an extremely long fast.
Jamali further submitted that the family of five have been given a total of 2 rooms which are extremely cramped, this despite the fact of being required to pay a substantial amount of over £4,000. The rooms have one chair and just a small table allowing one person to eat at a time. The bedding has not been changed by the staff, clean bedding has not been provided for the Claimants to change themselves.
The families maintained that the bedding has become stained and is now unhygienic. No facilities have been put into place to take out rubbish, meaning it remains with the families, the windows cannot be opened depriving the families of proper ventilation or fresh air. The families have a video of the lack of ventilation but have attached screenshots to assist the Court in the event the video is not accessible, the submission goes on.
Jamali has explained that some of the families have attempted to resolve these issues with the hotel’s staff, but they either do not pick up the phone and, when they do, they appear unable to deal with the quarantine situation including not being aware of how to register for COVID-19 tests online. When the staff was asked for clean bedding and towels, the families were told they would be sent but nothing has been forthcoming, the legal letter added. Hopefully after two Court Orders the hotel and the Secretary of State for Health will act.
Barrister Jamali argued that the decision to continue to keep these families in hotel quarantine or to refuse to allow them to leave quarantine is arguably unlawful and a clear violation of various articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR.)
The Judge Justice Henshaw ruled that the resources consideration concerning the number of guests at the hotel and security resources currently available cannot in his view justify a situation where a family of fives has not been permitted any outdoor exercise since 10 April. Neither it is possible to justify a situation where the family has insufficient food and insufficient chairs to sit on, Justice Henshaw concluded.