A mother who had just finished quarantining “burst into tears” after it was announced that all remaining countries were to be removed from the coronavirus red list.
Amanda Poole-Connor, 47, had finished 10 days of quarantining in a hotel next to Heathrow airport when news broke hours later that restrictions would be scrapped.
The mother-of-two said she felt she was being “punished” and the experience left her in tears after being isolated in a small room with “vile” food and “no natural light”.
“When I saw the news that restrictions had been scrapped I burst into tears,” Mrs Poole-Connor told the PA news agency.
“It’s devastating because I am never going to get those 10 days of my life back.
“The treatment of the people going into those hotels was abhorrent – I felt like a prisoner and if I was going to catch Covid from anywhere, it would have been in there.
“It was horrific being trapped and not even having daylight… It was so unnecessary and such a waste of everyone’s time and money.”
Mrs Poole-Connor had flown out to visit her father, who is unwell, on November 25 but arrived in South Africa to the news it had been placed on the red list while she was in the air.
Coronavirus travel restrictions meant travellers returning from red list countries were told to quarantine in specialised hotels for 10 days.
Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday that all 11 countries on the list would be removed from 4am the following day.
Many travellers, including Mrs Poole-Connor, reported spending over £2,000 to cover the costs of the mandatory quarantine stay.
“I am trying to focus on the positives like South Africa is being taken off the list and the fact that other people will not have to go through all that,” said Mrs Poole-Connor.
“But it’s hard to stay rational when I was kept away from my children for 10 days.”
Another woman who had been quarantining in a hotel near Gatwick Airport for the past five days said it felt like the Government were “mocking” travellers.
Gill, from Kent, said she has been made to feel like a “prisoner” since flying back from South Africa following a visit to family after the death of her nephew.
The 52-year-old had not been able to leave until 4pm on Wednesday and described the experience as an “emotional rollercoaster”.
She told PA: “I honestly feel really wronged by the whole thing but this part of it was absolutely cruel.
“I can’t describe to anybody how much stress I’ve been under for the last few weeks… it has affected me physically, mentally, and emotionally.
“I feel like the Government owes the people who quarantined an apology.”
The PA news agency has contacted the Government for comment.