June 16, 2021, 3:49 p.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 455 views)
The Coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on almost every aspect of modern life, especially how people travel and meet each other in our interconnected society. Since the early 2000’s people have increasingly become more mobile and have been migrating across the world, for leisure and work. Competitive airline fares and the emergence of a singular digital economy meant that people considered regular air travel domestic and international as a regular feature of society. However from February 2020 that changed drastically. Worldwide lock-down restrictions meant that countries shut their borders and international travel practically came to a halt.
With the world now preparing to live or in some ways already living in a ‘post-COVID’ world governments and aviation authorities have had to come up with regulations and travel guidelines to balance between preventing infection and re-starting the economy. This has been especially crucial given the almost catastrophic losses seen in the aviation and tourism sector. This has led to almost standardized ‘post-COVID’ guidelines in different parts of the world, from pre-departure covid-tests to hotel quarantines. The mandatory on arrival hotel quarantine which ranges from 7-21 days, depending on where you are flying to has been the subject of much debate. Are they really necessary? Are they ethical? Or in the other spectrum of the debate, some would say Why isn't mandatory hotel quarantine the norm? Regardless of their efficacy, they are a reality and are likely to stay.
So if you have any travel plans upcoming or know of people who are considering international travel in the near future, carry on reading as we explore how the ‘hotel quarantine’ norms vary in different countries, particularly China, Australia and United Kingdom. We shall do this by sharing the experience of different vloggers and regular people online who have documented their experiences in social media during their stay at such designated hotel quarantine facilities.
Hotel Quarantine in China
For China we shall share with you the experiences of a travel vlogger (Prince of Travel) and a model (Laura Mitt) who have recently had to travel to Shanghai. Current rules mandate a 14 day hotel quarantine on arrival in the country with regular covid-tests throughout your stay.
What are the rooms like?
Rooms are provided in select 4, 5-star properties with a standard layout and generally spacious ambience as one would expect from such hotels. Given the lengthy 14 day stay period, the Chinese authorities made sure that the rooms provided were at least spacious enough.
Here are some pictures of the rooms and a standard room view from one of the designated hotels in Shanghai.
Caption: View of Prince of Travel’s hotel
Caption: View from Lauren Mitt’s room
What facilities do you get?
Facilities are consistent with 4, 5-star hotel rooms. Storage space, TV, Working Desks and generally well-maintained bathroom/toilets have been experienced. There have been few instances of small leaks in the bathroom but these have been within tolerable limits.
What about outside food and/or parcels from visitors?
Allowed but all parcels are screened and dis-infected.
Can you step outside your room at all for breaks and walks?
No. All you can do is open the door and receive your food and parcels if relevant. You can only open your door to receive food after you hear a knock on it.
What about food? What are the quarantine meals like?
Food has been a divisive subject for travelers in Chinese Hotel Quarantines. Those with Chinese origins have found no qualms and have generally appreciated the food. However international travels have complained that on certain days the main meals are not too palatable for non-Chinese taste-buds.
Caption: Examples of Chinese Quarantine Food
And other services like laundry, medical treatment etc.?
Laundry depends on the hotel you are in, but generally, most travelers have to do their laundry in the bathroom sink which is an inconvenience. It is advisable to pack enough clothes to avoid having to do laundry whilst in quarantine. Medical treatment if needed is instantly available from the hotel's first aid room..
Any specific advice?
Travelers recommend having we-chat and all other apps generally used in China before travel as regular channels of communication such as WhatsApp. Facebook generally does not work well there. It is helpful to add the hotel's we-chat account to your phone.
Hotel Quarantine in Australia
Australia has been noted to be one of the earliest countries to close its borders and introduce mandatory hotel quarantine. Its hotel quarantine stays have also been rated as one of the best in the world. From the choice of food to the cleanliness of hotels the Australian quarantine experience is regarded to be relatively more comfortable than its counterparts in Asia.
Rooms are provided in select star properties with generally good ventilation and wide windows to provide pleasant views.
Caption: Rooms are spacious and some even have balconies
All standard facilities such as pantry area, stock of toiletries, mini-bar, fridge, TV, work-space are provided and travelers generally have no complaints in this aspect.
Yes but most travelers have said there is no requirement for outside food as the food provided by the hotels cater to most dietary requirements.
No, although there was controversy regarding this last year when hotel residents were able to allegedly bribe the security staff to let guests into their rooms or go outside for a short while into the city. This has been apparently resolved with more trained security deployed at these hotels.
Australian quarantine meals have been rated as some of the best. However, those looking for specific culinary needs may want to arrange outside food parcels as meals are prepared to keep Western taste-buds in primary consideration.
Caption: Typical quarantine breakfast
Laundry can be arranged with the hotel in advance. All hotels have dedicated medical teams on emergency calls if required along with regular first-aid providers.
Travelers may want to check specific rules for each state within Australia. Quality of service in hotels may also differ depending on which city you fly into.
Hotel Quarantine in the United Kingdom (U.K)
The U.K has been one of the most recent countries to introduce hotel quarantine measures for specific ‘red list’ countries. South-Asian countries like India and Pakistan have been added to this list meaning the widespread diaspora living in the U.K has had to face considerable difficulties. Travelers however only need to quarantine for 10 days.
Rooms are provided in select hotels with generally spacious and well-maintained rooms. There can be variability though depending on which hotel one gets allocated. This is complete unto the booking system and not in the hands of the travelers.
Caption: Rooms are generally modestly size, not being as spacious as those in Australia
All standard facilities such as pantry area, stock of toiletries, fridge, TV, work-space are provided and travelers generally have no complaints in this aspect.
You can get any parcels or food/grocery deliveries from visitors, friends, family. Most travelers regularly order from nearby take-sways and platforms such as Uber-Eats and Deliveroo which they receive to their doors.
Surprisingly yes. As long as you are accompanied or within sight of security, one can walk down to communal and parking areas and exercise/walk around for limited times. Guests say that in the mornings the parking lot has quite a few travelers walking around and exercising.
Food is basic and practical catered towards the Western taste bud. Most South-Asian travelers prefer deliveries from ethnic takeaways in the nearby Hounslow.
Caption: Typical Breakfast
Travelers need to take mandatory COVID tests on day 2 and day 8. It is recommended to ensure these are carried out properly and reminders may be necessary for the hotel staff if you have not received the designated test kits.