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couple facing £4k hotel quarantine bill on return from South Africa launch legal action

A legal challenge that argues coronavirus hotel quarantine is a 'fundamental breach of human rights' has been mounted this week.

People entering the UK from 10 countries in southern Africa must currently spend 10 full days in a quarantine hotel, at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.

On Monday, Owen Hancock, 35, and Emily Mennie, 30, were due to enter hotel quarantine on their return from a break in South Africa.

They say they were left stranded when the country was added to the UK's red list due to concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Owen Hancock, 35, and Emily Mennie, 30, from Tooting, London, were 'frustrated' when flights were banned and Heathrow's quarantine hotel was fully booked

Mr Hancock and Mrs Mennie, who was born in South Africa, were visiting her family for the first time since Covid struck nearly two years ago

The number of Covid infections per day in South Africa has spiked again over the weekend and is up 289 per cent on last week

The couple, from Tooting, London, were visiting Ms Mennie's family for the first time since the start of the pandemic when their travel plans were thrown into chaos.

When they finally managed to book their journey home, they were told hotel quarantine was full and they would have to reschedule their flights and PCR tests.

They say this added to their financial woes and are now facing a £4,000 credit card bill on their return.

The couple have set up an online petition, which has attracted more than 40,000 signatures, calling on the Government to fund hotel quarantine costs for travellers caught in the same situation when new measures are imposed at short notice.

Ms Mennie said: 'This ridiculous and unjustifiable policy was re-introduced with no prior warning, no ability for us to get home, and then to add insult to injury we were unable to get a room.

'The Government's handling of this has been shambolic and that's evident from the number of people who have signed our petition and call on the Prime Minister to rethink.'

Data in South Africa shows the R-rate has soared to over three per cent in recent weeks as Omicron took hold in Gauteng province

Mr Hancock said: 'It is utterly unfair and unreasonable that we should have to pay for mandatory hotel quarantine, which was not the Government policy when we left the UK.'

The couple say they have complied with all guidance and every restriction since the pandemic began.

They are backing a case brought by law firm PGMBM who on Thursday will seek permission at the High Court for a judicial review of the Government's mandatory hotel quarantine policy.