A BARNSLEY businessman who was left stranded in a Paris airport for five days has hit out at the UK government over his treatment at a ‘prison-like Covid hotel’ – after receiving ‘glorified snacks’ as meals and being threatened with the police.
Peter Firth returned from a prolonged trip to Costa Rica on Monday and stayed at the approved Crowne Plaza hotel in London while he completes his mandatory ten-day self-isolation period.
Peter flew out to Costa Rica in September but fell ill during his time there.
Once he had been treated by a doctor, Peter hoped to return to the UK but the travel status of Costa Rica in the meantime had gone from amber to red – meaning he could face a hefty fine if he didn’t isolate at one of the so-called ‘Covid hotels’.
Peter has slammed the treatment he has received since arriving at the hotel, saying he was ‘criminalised’.
“When I landed they immediately loaded us all onto a coach to be taken to the Covid hotels across London,” said Peter, 57, from Billingley.
“We then spent the next five hours driving around London because the driver of the coach wasn’t familiar with the area.
“The whole time I was on the coach I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything because we weren’t allowed to remove our face masks.
“I had taken a test before I left Costa Rica, which was negative, but the whole time I was treated as if I was contagious.”
The Crowne Plaza hotel boasts a wide range of amenities, from an indoor pool, tennis court and even a Belgian seafood restaurant to keep guests entertained.
But Peter, under government rules, had to stay in his room – apart from being given permission to leave for mild exercise for 15 minutes each day.
“If I had known how I would be treated I would have stayed in Costa Rica,” he added.
“The ‘meals’ are essentially microwave ones or meal deals.
“I thought that since I would be in a hotel that I would at least be receiving a fresh hot meal each day – but the best they seem to be able to manage is a sausage roll and ketchup, or a salmon sandwich.
“I wouldn’t mind but I paid £1,700 to stay here and I don’t know where the money has gone – I wasn’t expecting caviar and lobster but I want something more than a sausage roll.”
Peter added he feels that guests at the hotel are being treated ‘like criminals’ by staff and he has been threatened with a police presence during his time there.
“I opened my hotel door when I first got here to ask if I could go outside and I was threatened with being arrested by one of the staff members.
“I haven’t done anything wrong and yet I feel I am being treated like a prisoner.
“Just this week I had two police officers kick down my door and threaten me with arrest and a fine because I was outside a little longer than I should have been.
“When I tried to reason with them, one of the officers said if I didn’t want to be treated like this, then I shouldn’t have travelled.
“I have lost faith in the entire system now – clearly these hotels are a money-making scheme because they don’t have the best interests of the individual at heart.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our top priority has always been protecting the public and the robust border and testing regime we have in place is helping minimise the risk of new variants spreading in the UK.
“In the first instance guests should raise any issues directly with the managed quarantine hotel.
“Hotels are expected to maintain high standards and we require that they do their utmost to address those concerns.”