Scottish man threatens hunger strike after being forced into hotel quarantine
A repatriated seaman is threatening to go on a hunger strike if he is forced to remain in hotel quarantine after flying into Edinburgh Airport.
Gordon Percy, 62, flew into Edinburgh Airport from Paris with his partner, who is also a seaman, on Sunday. He was told on arrival that a change in Covid rules meant they had to enter a quarantine hotel.
Up until Saturday night, Scottish Government guidelines said repatriated seamen were exempt from having to isolate upon their arrival.
But when the couple arrived at Edinburgh Airport they were told at border control the rules had changed hours before they had arrived and they now had to isolate.
The latest changes had not been updated on the Scottish Government website at the time of arrival.
Mr Percy described the hotel, which has billed him £2,400 for their ten-day stay, as a prison and has threatened to go on a hunger strike if not released.
He said: “It’s like we’ve been kidnapped.
"There’s security guards on every floor and you’re not allowed to even leave your room.
"It’s like we’re in bloody prison, it’s unbelievable.
"If things don’t improve shortly, I’m going to go on a hunger strike.”
Mr Percy said the food they had been served so far was awful.
He described it as “lukewarm and disgusting”, adding: "It’s all carry-out food being delivered in cardboard packages with plastic knives and forks. We don’t even have a table to sit down and eat at.
"I won’t continue to eat the food.
“And, of course, it’s like a normal hotel. If I want anything else like a beer or wine, I’ve got to pay extra. It’s miserable.”
The couple were due back in their home in Comrie, in the Highlands, on Sunday evening where they care for Mr Percy’s 89-year-old mother.
As their arrival was imminent, Mr Percy’s sister, who had been caring for their elderly mother, returned to her home for work, but now they are being detained their mother has been on her own.
Mr Percy said: “She's very old and we’re all concerned now. She’s on the verge, which is why my sister was there.
"I spoke to my mum last night and she was in tears. She was expecting us to arrive and she’s just distraught.”
Mr Percy got in touch with the government’s managed isolation team on Sunday night and received a response stating the rules – noting they had changed on Saturday – which still said repatriated seamen were not required to isolate.
When they flew from Paris, their documents were thoroughly checked by a Scottish Government representative and were told everything was in order.
Mr Percy said he was seeking a review of his case.
A Scottish Government spokesman apologised for the inconvenience and said: “As of 4am on March 27, 2021, seafarers returning to Scotland on leave, not for further work in the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands, are required to enter managed isolation, unless they are being repatriated.
“Unfortunately, the guidance was not updated in time to reflect these changes, which created some confusion. The website has now been updated, which makes clear that repatriated seafarers continue to be exempt from managed isolation.”