Some travelers from Britain appear allergic to conditions at quarantine hotel in Tsing Yi

Top News | Wallis Wang 9 Apr 2021

Some of the 700 Hong Kong residents stranded in Britain have canceled their trips home on special flights, saying they are unhappy about the quarantine arrangements.

All returnees from Britain are being quarantined at the Rambler Garden Hotel in Tsing Yi.

And some about to fly back expressed concerns regarding the hotel due to bad online reviews - including paying HK$400 to HK$500 a night for a "tiny room."

Saadia Usmani, 57, a media consultant and freelance radio broadcaster, told The Standard she had planned to come back this month for work and to take care of her husband, but eventually decided to cancel her trip.

Usmani moved to Hong Kong four years ago and returned to London in January for surgery on her foot.

She said she made the difficult decision not to return due to health concerns after reading online reviews that the hotel was unclean and old.

Usmani said she was shocked when she found the rooms were small and had no space for desks or any form of exercise.

"Personally, I am very concerned, as I will be doing this quarantine after major surgery on my foot and I need some space to exercise," she said.

"I can't stand too long in the shower. I would like a bathtub so that I can lie down and not put weight on my foot."

She is worried whether the hotel could facilitate her health needs, as well as her physical and mental wellbeing, during the 21-day quarantine.

Usmani, a Muslim, also said she does not eat anything from sunrise till sunset during Ramadan, which this year begins next week.

"If I was going to stay in a hotel, then I would make sure the room has a fridge so that I could put some food in it and eat at 4am, before sunrise," she said.

"I can't really eat breakfast when [it is usually served]. I would need to eat just a bit early."

She added: "If you have food delivery, you can order and it comes at the right time, so you get to eat your hot meal instead of something arriving earlier and you have to wait."

Some people who were eager to come back, on the other hand, were frustrated after the online booking website for the two Cathay Pacific special flights crashed. When they got in, they added, all the tickets were snapped up.

Online booking opened yesterday afternoon, but the system crashed amid technical issues.

The flights - CX2252 - will take off from Heathrow Airport on April 21 and April 28.

Economy, premium economy and business class fares ranged from HK$9,700 to HK$34,000.

"The website crashed and we then found all the tickets were sold," one hopeful traveler said. "We called Cathay Pacific but no one answered the phone."

Another said he did not even get to see the ticket prices as he could not get onto the booking page.

The Food and Health Bureau, in reply to The Standard, said returnees cannot choose their quarantine hotel so it can "centrally manage the infection risks."

The bureau said three meals are provided at normal meal times with four options - Chinese, Western, vegetarian and low salt and sugar.

Returnees can request special meals from the hotel, including halal food, Indian food and kosher meals, or order food from outside at their own cost.

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