Mandatory Quarantine – Why Hotels and not Serviced Apartments?

In our last blog, we mentioned that the government was planning to introduce a mandatory quarantine for travellers returning from “red list” Covid hotspots in efforts to combat the import of new strains of the COVID-19 virus into the UK. In a follow-up announcement last week, the government confirmed that the mandatory quarantine will commence on the 15 February, 2021 and travellers from countries on the list will be required to stay in a government approved facility for 10 days.

Whilst the plan appears to be a step in the right direction, the only draw back is that the government intends to use hotels as Managed Quarantine Facilities which begs the question; Why hotels and not serviced apartments? Especially given that the UK government asked all hotels to close at the start of the pandemic as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Not to be biased, but there are several reasons why isolating people in hotels for 10 days is not such a good idea. With this in mind, we decided to list the top ones below.

The Cost

Pre-brexit, Hotels in UK were reputed to be the most expensive on the entire European continent, on average they cost between £10 to £20 more per night than other European cities including Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Rome. Whilst the government is yet to secure hotels to use, we believe the quality of accommodation has to be a key factor and good (4-star) hotels do not come cheap. On the contrary, quality serviced apartments cost between £50 to £100 less per night than the average 4-star hotel – translating to costs savings between £500 to £1,000 for a 10-day quarantine stay.

The Amount of Space

Nobody likes staying in a small hotel room for prolonged periods, it’s tolerable for one or two nights, but not for 10 whole days, and it’s even made worse when you consider that being in quarantine means one’s movements will be restricted. At a serviced apartment, space comes with the territory because they usually include a kitchen, living room, and bedroom – some of them even have one or two separate bedrooms. They’re a great and cost-effective option for housing larger groups travelling together, especially families – many apartments can easily accommodate up to 5 people – small wonder lots of holiday travellers prefer serviced apartments to hotels.

Catering Facilities

Considering that, as part of the current lockdown, restaurants and bars are closed, except those offering takeaway services, what will the people in these quarantine facilities do for food? The restaurants in hotels are also closed, they can’t exactly go out to get something to eat and we don’t expect food deliveries will be allowed. With a serviced apartment comes a fully kitted out, modern kitchen or kitchenette with pots, pans, utensils, cutlery, and crockery all included. Think about how much will have to be spent on feeding either by the government or by the travellers in quarantine. Having a kitchen with cupboard space, a sink, a dishwasher, and oven/stove allows the “guests” cook meals whenever they please. All that needs to be sorted is ensuring they have a stock of groceries and other necessities that they’ll need while in quarantine.

Comfort

A serviced apartment has the potential to be a home away from home. Apart from the kitchen facilities available, there are plenty more amenities which help to make staying in a serviced apartment much better than a hotel. Many apartments have a dishwasher meaning those in quarantine don’t have to do the washing up, and the advantages of having a washing machine/tumble drier in the apartment cannot be overemphasised especially for long stays. Did I mention that they also come with a smart TV and free wi-fi? Having all these living necessities in one personal space will bring peace of mind and a major sense of privacy. Besides there are lots of things that can be done in the comfort of a serviced apartment.

Mental Well-being

Lots of consideration needs to be given towards the mental well-being of the travellers being placed in the quarantine facilities. Just imagine returning to the country after well-deserved break and being forced to check into a “quarantine hotel” for another 10 days! Ten days indoors, confined to a room with the family, only allowed the occasional visit to a communal garden, where one spends more time trying to avoid contact with other “guests” for fear of catching the virus – one can only imagine how families would cope! With a serviced apartment, at least there’s plenty of room to move around, and one can easily make the most of it and achieve some semblance of being at home or on an extended holiday.

Housekeeping

Now that we’ve established that serviced apartments offer privacy, more space, and self-catering amenities, it will be remiss not to mention another added benefit in the form of regular housekeeping services. Full cleaning, as well as frequent linen and towel replacement services, usually come standard with serviced apartments, so the “guests” won’t need to worry about having to clean up or wash any of the linen. Since the start of the pandemic, most serviced apartment providers have taken additional steps to ensure their apartments are COVID safe; including making significant investments in industry leading sanitising and disinfecting solutions, implementing an enhanced cleaning protocol, and even updating their cleaning checklist.

The government has mentioned that  discussions have been held with the relevant health officials in Australia and New Zealand to glean some of their expertise and several meetings have been held with stakeholders from the aviation, maritime, hotel and hospitality industries. We are also aware that various government departments are already carrying out detailed work and information on how passengers will be able to book into the designated  accommodation facilities. However, we can only hope that due consideration will be given towards offering passengers the option of booking into a serviced apartment instead of a hotel.

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