Asylum seekers could temporarily stay at a Hornchurch hotel
PUBLISHED: 16:15 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:15 22 June 2020
Asylum seekers could be temporarily housed at a Hornchurch hotel to help curb the spread of coronavirus, the Home Office has confirmed.
The move is part of a nationwide programme to move asylum seekers from their current accommodation to more spacious ones for families in order to help reduce infections.
The asylum seekers expected to stay at the Palms Hotel - currently unoccupied and being renovated - are not those who have newly arrived in the UK and the hotel is not being used as a quarantine centre. The hotel has a capacity of 139.
The hotel’s manager said that at the moment, they are expected to stay for a few days at a time as a temporary measure.
Neither the hotel nor the Home Office have confirmed a date or the number of asylum seekers to arrive.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “This is a temporary arrangement given that across the system, asylum seekers have not vacated their accommodation to stop the spread of coronavirus, meaning more spaces have been needed to ensure that social distancing and public health guidance can be followed. We would like to acknowledge the work of local authorities and thank them for their help.”
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The spokesperson added that the Home Office has introduced a range of measures to support asylum seekers who are affected by the coronavirus outbreak who would otherwise be destitute without the accommodation, while their asylum applications are considered.
Those who would ordinarily would have their support stopped because their claim has been rejected will remain accommodated and supported.
Accommodation providers have been sourcing additional capacity to meet growing demand and this temporary measure and will be reviewed at the end of June in line with public health guidance.
All asylum seekers in temporary accommodation have been given guidance in their native language relating to hygiene, washing hands, social distancing, coronavirus symptoms and what to do if they become symptomatic.
Leader of Havering Council, councillor Damian White and Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell have written open letters to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, claiming that local authorities had not been sufficiently consulted about the plans for the hotel.
They also claim that the location of the hotel “presents risks” and hasn’t been properly addressed or assessed.
Cllr White said that the first the council heard of the plan was from a junior member of staff who received an email about it on Thursday (June 18).
He urged the Home Secretary to review the decision “as a matter of urgency” adding that Havering has “done their bit” in receiving many asylum seekers.
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