'Probably worse than prison' Welsh engineer documents 'shocking' conditions during 10-day hotel quarantine

  • Watch as Richard Morris documents his experience staying at a government-managed quarantine hotel

A Welsh engineer has documented some of the "appalling" conditions he has experienced while staying at one of the UK Government's quarantine hotels.

Richard Morris, an aircraft engineer from Mountain Ash, paid the government fee of £1,750 for a 10-day quarantine stay "probably worse than prison" and told ITV News he has been "disgusted" by the quality of the food provided.

Richard was escorted to the President Hotel in central London on 19 June after landing from the red-listed country of the Philippines into Heathrow Airport where he had been working for the last four months.

He said the majority of his work is overseas which requires him travel through red list countries.

Richard is quarantining at the President Hotel in central London Credit: Richard Morris

Richard's return requires him to quarantine for 10 days in a "managed quarantine hotel" and take two coronavirus tests.

The UK Government said the hotel quarantining measures are in place to reduce the risk of the new variant spreading "from someone coming into the UK, protecting the UK’s vaccination programme."

He said processing of the passengers "took hours".

"It was shambolic, considering they had all our information two days before."

Richard said he has been "disgusted" by the conditions he has experienced so far, and described it as "probably worse than being in prison."

He told ITV News when he arrived at his hotel room on Saturday evening, it was "immediately obvious" it hadn't been deep cleaned.

"This hotel is closed to the public, so who was in the room before me? Obviously they were quarantining and you'd think the room would be cleaned between stays".

One of Richard's evening meals Credit: Richard Morris

"The food is terrible, it's in polystyrene trays with plastic knife and forks. It is verging on being inedible."

He told ITV News meal times have a window of three hours and can come "any time" within that window.

"Breakfast is 7.30am - 10am so at any time during that window, they can knock the door with your food so often I get woken up, collect my breakfast and have to eat it straight away. Then it's a case of lying on my bed until my lunch arrives. And then same again, maybe watch a football game and then my evening meal arrives between 5:30 - 8:30pm.

"The Euros have been my saviour to be honest with you - especially with Wales going through now. So I've got something to look forward to."

  • Watch the report by ITV Wales Correspondent Richard Morgan

Richard filmed some of the food that has been delivered to his room, which included a chicken and lettuce baguette and some soup which he described as a "watery mess".

"Minestrone soup - hardly any vegetables, it's just a watery mess to be honest", he can be heard saying. "A very small amount of chicken, I'd probably call this a lettuce baguette. Life at the government quarantine hotel - and all at a cost of £1,750".

Richard filmed himself opening food which he described as "shocking" Credit: Richard Morris

Richard said the room is "extremely cold" and said he would "sleep in the bathroom" if there was enough room.

In one video clip, Richard shows bits of food in the carpet and says he is "frightened to move the bed" to see what is underneath.

Richard said he doesn't believe the room was "deep cleaned" before he arrived Credit: Richard Morris

Exercise is only permitted at the discretion of hotel security staff. "We get limited exercise time of 20 minutes where you have to ring security and then they escort you. I haven't bothered", he added.

Richard said the food is "verging on inedible" Credit: Richard Morris

Richard said at one point, he even considered "leaving and walking out".

"I spoke to my wife and I contemplated leaving the hotel and risking the £10,000 fine. I actually considered leaving and walking out.

"I would advise anyone thinking of going away to seriously think about the conditions they may have to put up with coming back after what I've experienced."

"I've lived in tough conditions in the past so it's probably easier for me than a lot of people", Richard said. "If my wife was to do this she would struggle. I am quite strong mentally and physically so I'm just getting through as best I can.

"I don't understand where the price of £1,750 comes from because I'm certainly not getting £1,750 worth of services. I can order food in, but why should I have to? It's absolutely disgusting and someone needs to answer for this, people shouldn't be put through this."

In a statement, a government spokesperson said it does not comment on individual cases but hotels do their "utmost" to take any necessary steps to address concerns raised by guests.”

It added its 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 coming into the UK."

“The government continues to ensure every person in quarantine gets the support they need and all managed quarantine facilities are accommodating the vast majority of people's requirements.

It said guests should raise any concerns directly with the hotel and those hotels providing managed quarantine facilities are able to meet the "vast majority of requirements and must provide guests with three appropriate meals a day, access to WIFI, welfare and health support."

ITV Wales contacted Imperial Hotels for a response to the claims. It said, "At this stage we have no comment."