Gary Burgess: My week locked up in an isolation wing

Gary in isolation
As he nears the end of his seven day isolation in Guernsey, Gary Burgess shares his experience of what it's been like. Credit: Gary Burgess

“It sounds like a police state!”

That was the reaction of one of my colleagues when I described to her my living conditions right now.

As I write this, it’s day four of my seven days of isolation, spent in a separate isolation wing of a hotel in St Peter Port.

You see, I’ve island-hopped to co-host the Pride of Guernsey Awards at the invitation of the Guernsey Press and then I’m staying on to join my colleagues in covering the General Election.

I knew I’d have to spend seven days in strict isolation (and I’m only allowed out if my day seven coronavirus test comes back negative), but I hadn’t quite anticipated how organised it would be.

On the short flight over, where passengers were physically distanced from each other, I filled in a booklet with my personal details and travel history, ready to be greeted on arrival by a police officer and customs officer, then by a medic who checked through my details, and gave me the green light to head to my hotel.

On arrival, I stood out like a sore thumb as I was obliged to keep my face mask on until I reached my isolation room. Helpfully, it meant they spotted me a mile off and swung into action, donning rubber gloves to escort me to my temporary home.

While it IS a hotel room, the set up is different. I have my own cleaning products. I have to ‘double bag’ all my waste, my food arrives on disposable plates so that everything can be thrown away in a safe way. Oh, and on day five I apparently get a red bag of fresh linen, and must pop my dirty linen in that red bag so they know to take that away for laundering in aseparate place to the rest of the hotel’s laundry.

So, what’s isolation like?

Well, I’ll be honest, I’m so far rather enjoying it. I was already in need of a good rest and this is the ultimate way to get one. I’m using my time to read the manifestos of the 118 candidates in the running for a seat come election day, to read about all the amazing people nominated for a Pride of Guernsey Award, and to do the odd bit of news along the way, such as recording the Channelcast podcast, stitching together a report about hospital beds in Jersey, and penning this blog.

What are the downsides?

Well boredom equals comfort eating. And, given I managed 66 steps in total yesterday, I need to be careful not to leave isolation a stone heavier! I’m doing my best to avoid snacks, pop the patio door open to breathe in some fresh air from the balcony, and do some mini workouts to rack up some semblance of activity.

Most of all, assuming my day seven test comes back negative, I can’t wait to get out and explore glorious Guernsey. It was my home for many years before I moved to Jersey, and it’s a joy to be back… even in isolation.

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