Join the Legal Challenge of the UK Government’s Hotel Quarantine
Join the Legal Challenge of the UK Government’s Hotel Quarantine
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Latest: April 23, 2021
PGMBM Send Further Correspondence
We would like to thank you all once again for your continued and invaluable support to the campaign. Our challenge to the Government’s illegal and unfair hotel quarantine policy would not have …Read more
Hello. My name is Felipe. I, together with a few other like-minded people who strongly believe in the preservation of fundamental human rights, are seeking to bring a legal challenge against the mandatory hotel quarantine measures imposed by the UK Government on UK and Irish citizens and residents returning home to England.
We believe that the Government, by forcing UK and Irish citizens and residents returning home to quarantine in a hotel at their own cost, regardless of whether they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, or whether they have tested positive for COVID-19, has unlawfully and disproportionately violated their fundamental right to liberty and right to respect for private and family life.
Whilst we acknowledge the importance of safeguarding public health in these unprecedented times, and understand that any public policy decision aiming to prevent the spread of the virus is by its nature difficult, the Government should in no way use this as an excuse to disproportionately deprive its citizens and residents of their fundamental human rights. Under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, no one shall be unduly deprived of their liberty. Article 8 further protects everyone’s right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence from any undue interference by public authorities.
An ineffective “one size fits all” policy
Under the new measures, UK and Irish citizens and residents returning from red-list countries to England are forced to quarantine in a hotel regardless of whether they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, or whether they have tested positive for COVID-19. This means that people with no symptoms of COVID-19 who have been tested negative once, or even twice or more, after arriving in the United Kingdom, are also subject to the same quarantine requirements.
This thoughtless “one size fits all” policy has and will continue to have far-reaching implications for thousands of non-infectious citizens and residents who are simply hoping to return home to reunite with their family and perform their regular, taxable, work duties in the country.
Citizens and residents paying for the privilege of staying in their own country
We believe that it is utterly disproportionate for the Government to require its citizens and residents to pay at their own expense – an astonishing total of £1,750 - for the privilege of staying in their own country where they already have a place of residence. It is unreasonable for the Government to assume the ineffectiveness of home quarantine without first considering viable, but more human rights friendly, alternatives which have been successfully implemented in many other countries across the world.
Disregarding international obligations
The United Kingdom, as a Member State of the World Health Organization which has committed itself to abiding by the International Health Regulations, has disregarded its international obligations under Article 40 of the Regulations, which expressly prohibits Member States from imposing a charge to travellers who are subject to quarantine requirements.
Threatening citizens and residents with disproportionately serious penalties
Whilst it is understandable that the Government has to impose penalties of some kind to encourage compliance with the quarantine measures, its plan to impose a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years (comparable to a large number of firearm and sexual offences) and a maximum fine of £10,000 on people who conceal their travel history, is nothing but a disproportionate threat and an abuse of power.
Call to Action
Together, we can bring a judicial review and hold the Government to account for its unlawful public health policy, and most of all, its disproportionate infringement of the fundamental human rights that each of us deserve. Your support is needed urgently so please contribute to our legal action now and share this page with your friends, family and on social media.
What are we trying to achieve?
We believe wholeheartedly that the Government’s decision should be subject to judicial scrutiny. We are fighting to uphold the fundamental rights of UK and Irish residents’, arriving in England, to liberty and respect for private and family life, and to ensure that no one will be detained unlawfully, in the name of public health, in their own country.
What is the next step in the case?
Our first step is to raise a letter setting out our position and grounds of judicial review to the Government. We will then issue proceedings and commence the judicial review process. We will provide you with updates on this page as the case proceeds.
How much we are raising and why?
Our solicitors, PGMBM, will be handling the day-to-day running of the case on a pro bono basis. However, we still need to raise an initial £5,000, through your contributions, which will be put toward the costs of expert counsel and other disbursements.
After performing the initial work, we will then need to raise a further £195,000 to run the case to its full completion and to truly hold the Government to account.
We thank you in advance for supporting this critical case of constitutional significance. We must stick together for our country in these unprecedented and trying times.
April 23, 2021
PGMBM Send Further Correspondence
We would like to thank you all once again for your continued and invaluable support to the campaign. Our challenge to the Government’s illegal and unfair hotel quarantine policy would not have been possible without your support and generous donations.
By way of update on our judicial review challenge, on 16 April 2021 we responded to the Government’s letter. We have given the Government until 23 April 2021 to respond. We will post a link to a copy of the letter (with redactions to protect the privacy of the Claimants) as soon as possible.
As mentioned in our previous update, the Government’s response fell short of our request to remove all charges for hotel quarantine. We have therefore once again requested that the Government remove all charges on the ground that charging UK and Irish citizens and residents to quarantine is a breach of the UK’s obligations under international law. As an alternative to removing all charges, we have requested that the Government at least introduce adequate exemptions and/or payment plans to ensure that those who are unable to afford the hotel quarantine charges are not left in difficult financial situations or prevented from returning home and exercising their right of abode in the UK.
We note that on 23 April the Government added India to the “red list”. You can find the full “red-list” via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/transport-measures-to-protect-the-uk-from-variant-strains-of-covid-19#red-list-travel-ban-countriesAccordingly.
We remain extremely concerned that the Government continues to introduce further countries to the “red list” without considering the impact that the hotel quarantine charges and the lack of support for those from low--income backgrounds is having on an increasing number of citizens and residents who are unable to return home.
If you have been affected by the Government’s hotel quarantine policy, we invite you to contact us to share how it has impacted you and your families.
April 7, 2021
Government Responds to PGMBM
Firstly, and as always, thank you to all those who have continued to both donate and stay engaged with the campaign. Your invaluable support consistently provides the motivation to sustain our efforts to challenge the Government’s hotel quarantine policy and remains greatly appreciated by all involved.
We received a response from the Government to our Letter Before Claim on 26 March 2021. We will post a link to a copy of the letter (with redactions to protect the privacy of our Claimants) as soon as possible.
We are pleased to announce that since sending our Letter Before Claim, the Government has removed Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) from the “red-list” of travel ban countries. This means that the second Claimant can now return home and attend school without having to book a “managed self-isolation package” and quarantine in a government-designated hotel room for (at least) 10 full days. In addition, the Government has also updated the hotel quarantine exemption list to include: (i) individuals with severe medical or health conditions as it now recognises that such individuals would not receive appropriate support if required to self-isolate in a government-designated hotel room; (ii) the carers of those individuals with severe medical or health conditions; and (iii) individuals who need to travel to visit a dying or severely ill household member, close family member or friend.
Whilst this is an excellent result for our client, the Government’s response falls far short of our request that it remove all charges for hotel quarantine.
We also note that the Government continues to update the “red-list” and on 19 March added Ethiopia, Oman, Qatar and Somalia to the list. Similarly, on 2 April the Government announced that on 9 April Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines will be added to the list. You can find the full “red-list” via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/transport-measures-to-protect-the-uk-from-variant-strains-of-covid-19#red-list-travel-ban-countriesAccordingly, we remain extremely concerned that an increasing number of people may be unable to afford to return home because of the Government’s unlawful hotel quarantine charges and may be experiencing immense stress about the uncertainty of how and when they will return home. If you have been affected by the Government’s hotel quarantine policy, we invite you to contact us to share how it has impacted you and your families.
March 10, 2021
PGMBM Send Letter Before Claim to the Government
Firstly, we would like to thank everyone for their support in raising awareness about the challenge to hotel quarantine, sharing how it has affected you and your families as well as for all the generous contributions received to date.
We have made significant progress over the last two weeks and are pleased to inform you that we have instructed a distinguished Counsel team consisting of Tom Hickman QC, Adam Wagner and Francis Hoar, all of whom are leading human rights and public law barristers.
Today, 5 March 2021, we sent the Government a Letter Before Claim (“LBC”) on behalf of two Claimants which sets out our challenge to the measures. On the advice of Counsel, the LBC is focussed on the grounds with the greatest prospects of success when taking the Claimants individual circumstances into account. Accordingly, we have focussed the grounds of judicial review on: (1) the illegal imposition of charges for hotel quarantine and coronavirus testing; (2) the unaffordable level of fees and absence of any adequate exceptions under the hotel quarantine charging policy; and (3) European Convention on Human Rights and Equality Act challenges to the nature of the quarantine restrictions.
Our challenge is to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No. 7) Regulations, which amended the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/568) (the “Regulations”).
In summary, we say:
- Article 40 of the International Health Regulations 2005 (“IHR 2005”) prohibits the imposition of charges for quarantine. Therefore, it follows that the Government’s charging policy for a “managed self-isolation package” is contrary to the IHR.
- The general power for the Secretary of State to “permit or prohibit” charges under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 must be read subject to the UK’s international obligations under the IHR 2005. It follows that either (a) the provision in the Regulations that authorises the Secretary of State to impose charges for quarantine is ultra vires, and should be severed from the Regulations, or (b) the discretion under that provision cannot be used in a way contrary to the IHR 2005 and so Government’s charging policy is ultra vires.
- The imposition of quarantine charges represents a substantial additional cost for people needing to travel and, for many, the costs are unaffordable and prohibitive. In addition, the Government’s charging policy does not make adequate exceptions or reductions for those that are unable to pay it - For example, people receiving income related benefits and retirees who do not have any work income. The effect of the charging policy is therefore to prevent people travelling to see family and, in many cases, will impede and even prevent family units from being together. In some cases, the charges obstruct people, including children, from exercising their right of abode or residency in the United Kingdom, unlawfully frustrating their statutory rights under the Immigration Act 1971.
- In general, a restriction (such as hotel quarantine) that impacts upon fundamental freedoms or that affects minority groups disproportionately will not be lawful under the Human Rights Act 1998 or the Equality Act 2010 if a less restrictive method could have been used. The LBC focusses on one specific group that is disproportionately affected by hotel quarantine, namely children.
- When considering the hotel quarantine measures, the Court must scrutinise decisions affecting fundamental rights. Whether those decisions are lawful or not must be based objectively on the merits. In circumstances where an equality impact assessment has not been undertaken, or where one has been undertaken but is inadequate, the Court should not give the Government any, or more than a minimal, margin of discretion. We note that the Government has not published any impact assessment in respect of children. In any event, given the nature of the hotel quarantine measures, we do not consider that any impact assessment could have adequately evaluated the impact of hotel quarantine on children .
In light of the above, the LBC requires the Government to: (1) remove all charges for hotel quarantine; (2) agree that the hotel quarantine measures are inadequate to address the rights of children; and (3) set out how the hotel quarantine measures will be changed to give effect to their fundamental human rights. You can read the full LBC by following the link on our CrowdJustice page. Please note we have removed the identifying details of our Claimants to protect their privacy.
Whilst we acknowledge the importance of safeguarding public health, we wholeheartedly believe that the Government should not use the Coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to implement unlawful regulations that are contrary to the UK’s international obligations and violate fundamental human rights.
The government must be held to account and without your support that would not be possible, so again, thank you.
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