Government concedes need to change Covid-19 hotel quarantine charges

Adam Wagner and Cian Murphy act for a retiree, an NHS worker, and a gig economy worker, bringing a challenge to the Government’s charging policy for hotel quarantine. A key element of the challenge is that the British Government’s charging policy for hotel quarantine is unlawful because it imposes the same fixed fee of £1,750 or more on anyone travelling to England from a “red list” country.

The policy does not take into account an individual’s circumstances or their ability to pay save that it allows for payment to be deferred for a short period. The judicial review claim argues that any scheme which does not allow for the fee to be waived or reduced under any circumstance is unlawful, as it discriminates against people from low or no income backgrounds. It can also prevent people exercising their “right of abode”; something all British citizens and residents are entitled to do.

On the last working day before the Government’s Summary Grounds of Defence was due to be filed, it confirmed that it will be changing the hotel quarantine system to allow people to apply for a fee waiver or reduction on the grounds of financial hardship. Details of the scheme have not yet been made public.

The court has now ordered a six week stay in the proceedings, until 9 August 2021. The Government had asked for eight weeks, and the Claimants argued four weeks was sufficient. The time is to allow the Government to implement the fee reduction and waiver scheme. It claimed it was necessary because of other changes to the broader suite of policies being implemented in relation to hotel quarantine, and practical barriers to implementation.

Adam Wagner and Cian Murphy act for BB, MAM, and TE, instructed by PGMBM.

The Statement of Facts and Grounds is here.

Media Coverage: The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times.