Women in Covid quarantine hotels to get female guards

Women in Covid quarantine hotels to get female guards

The Department of Health and Social Care made the change to give lone women female guards after a BBC report in which women said one male guard had mimed having sex in a lift, and another had asked for a hug.

Private security companies have been hired by the government to ensure hotel guests observe quarantine rules.

G4S said it expected the highest standards of conduct from staff and investigated allegations of wrongdoing.

If female guards are unavailable, women should be escorted by two male guards.

Sixteen women have reported harassment to the BBC and some say complaints have been ignored or disbelieved.

Under current Covid restrictions travellers are obliged to quarantine in a hotel after returning from countries on the UK’s red list.

They spend 10 nights in their room and are allowed out for daily exercise only when accompanied by a guard.

Sarah, a 23-year-old medical student from Manchester says she was taken by a guard on a terrifying walk along deserted hotel corridors when she was quarantining in the Radisson Red Heathrow in April.

On the changes she told the BBC that: “Personally I would find two male guards more intimidating than just one lone guard… I don’t think it ensures the safety of women, rather it increases possible risk”

“A group of male guards were talking about me when they clearly saw one male guard was being inappropriate with me. I don’t think it ensures the safety of women, rather it increases possible risk.”

Sixteen women have been in contact with the BBC with reports of sexual harassment, with some saying that their complaints have been ignored of disbelieved.

The cases include:

  • a woman who received a stream of Facebook messages from a guard who called her “dear” and “sweetheart”, and knocked on her door after writing, “This evening I’ll come”
  • a woman who says a guard knocked repeatedly on her door – she then found a note addressed to her from “the tall guard” saying she was “fit” and asking her to message him
  • a 20-year-old teaching assistant who says she was cat-called and wolf-whistled by G4S guards when she simply walked past a quarantine hotel

Two women have received a response from the new DHSC complaints team and all 12 women say they are dissatisfied with the way their complaints were handled.

Sarah and a number of other women have said they had received no written response at all.

Ellie joined Gi Media in July 2021.