Fire alarm sparks social distancing chaos and anger at Gatwick quarantine hotel

Travellers staying at a Gatwick quarantine hotel were woken with a fire alarm and scenes of social distancing chaos.

Travellers staying at a Gatwick quarantine hotel were woken with a fire alarm and scenes of social distancing chaos this morning, December 9.

Visitors were seen wearing pyjamas and huddled together outside of the hotel, regardless of social distancing rules.

Eyewitnesses told MailOnline they had initially been informed to stay in their rooms and ignore the blaring alarm, then told a quarter of an hour later to leave the building.

People of all ages staying at the Sofitel hotel, including people who have travelled back from red list countries, clutched towels and tried to keep warm as many of them were not even dressed properly.

Furious travellers, many of whom have paid £3,700 to quarantine, slammed security for the handling of the situation, calling it a “superspreader event.”

Video footage of the scene shows dozens of people standing outside while two young members of staff from Sofitel attempted to take a roll call using a loudspeaker.

Some of the patrons were cradling babies and reassuring young children and were apparently largely left to their own devices until emergency serviced arrived.

“It was freezing cold,” said one guest, who did not wish to be identified.

“There were elderly people and mothers with babies there. A staff member with a megaphone was trying to read a roll call of guests but no-one could hear. It was ridiculous.”

“When we went back into the hotel there was congestion on the stairs and lifts. It was chaotic really. The hotel needs to look long and hard at all its procedures to ensure it had the ability to look after quarantining travellers in safety.”

According to MailOnline, guests spent an hour outside in 35.6F (2C) temperatures. They are now back inside the hotel.

A 65-year-old guest said: “The fact of the matter was a smoke alarm had gone off but it could have been a fire and we were all told to stay in our rooms. It was farcical but also dangerous.”

Her daughter, Sally Buckmaster, said: “I’m furious about it because the hotel should not taking chances with people’s lives and putting guests at risk.”

“It is shocking and unacceptable and the whole thing was a shambles. My mother was quite worried about it all.”

“The evacuation was chaotic, people couldn’t social distance and one person even had an asthma attack and collapsed and an ambulance had to attend.”

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Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at