Monday 18 January 2021

Self-Isolation - I

All in form or a fine

As per the mandatory CoVID-19 precautionary measures of the UK and England in particular, I am just completing the 1st of 10 full days of self-isolation (quarantine) because I was in South Africa. During the last week of my sojourn in South Africa, the UK had the requirement of a negative CoVID-19 test or the risk of a £500 fine within 72 hours of my departure effective from 4:00 AM on the 15th of January.

I took my test on Thursday and it would have just fallen within the 72-hour range, but by the time I got the result, the government website had updated the effective date moving it back 72 hours. In any case, I still needed the test because it was checked at the check-in counter for my local travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then when I was about to traverse customs and immigration in Johannesburg.

Another requirement from the UK was filling in a Passenger Locator form within 48 hours of arrival with details of where I was travelling from, where I will be transiting through, Paris, in this instance, and where I will be staying for my compulsory self-isolation which could attract fines of up to £10,000 if broken.

We are slow on the uptake

The checks were quite efficient in South Africa, masks compulsory, hands sanitised, temperature checked registration at the lounges. There was a tracking and tracing system in play with notifications from the South African authorities obtained from when I registered for the test.

Through the flight from Johannesburg to Paris, we had to keep our masks on and AirFrance offered mask to everyone whilst strictly requiring those with cloth masks to change to standard-issue surgical masks. In Paris, I was a bit concerned because the lounge did begin to fill up and the social distancing requirement was not that adhered to. The transit bus to the flight we boarded from Paris to Manchester had us packed in like sardines.

When we arrived in The UK on Sunday in the early afternoon, there were no checks whatsoever. Whilst there were hand sanitising stations, I was through the e-Passport gate in a minute and in a black taxi with windows open in the cold for ventilation after baggage reclaim in under 15 minutes.

Speaking foreign like English

Just before noon, I received a phone call, an unknown number but the lady on the other end with a foreign-sounding accent, presumably Indian was calling on behalf of the UK Government for public health purposes to inform me that my household and I need to self-isolate for 10 days. All that information I already knew. One of the questions she asked was whether I would like to continue the conversation in English, I did not ask what alternative languages were available, Welsh, Gaelic or Yoruba, Dutch, maybe Afrikaans, if she spoke slowly enough.

It was like the information I had submitted that included my passport particular had no significance. I was also back to work, my accounts needed to be reactivated as they were disabled when I was away. A long slow day, it was. There are only 9 more days to go.

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