We’ve been to UK for two months and most of the times were spent on arranging those bits and pieces of living here. Quite a lot of the works could only be done one at a time and not much shortcut are available for speeding up. With the amount of planning and arrangement, I didn’t have much spare time and couldn’t afford to timely update my blog.
Given that most of the works needed to be done had been settled recently, let me resume the sharing of my UK immigration.
The first thing to tackle was the self isolation. If you are coming from those “Red list” countries, you needed to stay in “Managed Quarantine Hotel” for the 10-day isolation. Travellers from Hong Kong, which is part of those “Amber list” countries, can have their isolation in any self chosen place. This seems to be a better option as no costly quarantine expense is required. However, unless you have your own house or have someone providing temporary accommodation for you, you actually run into the trouble in arranging hotel or Airbnb plus getting meals for the self isolation.
Before leaving Hong Kong, I tried to apply for the Managed Quarantine Hotel through the official website. Unfortunately, I was immediately rejected upon stating Hong Kong as the place of origin.
I finally reserved a nearly new Airbnb Studio in an excellent location. There were bus-stops right at the entrance and the nearest railway station could be reached within 15 minutes of walk. More importantly, Sainsbury’s Local is just on the opposite side of the road, making shopping of foods and day to day needs extremely convenient. With such an excellent package, the rent was definitely not cheap.
入境英國第一件要面對的事就是隔離。如果你是來自那些 ”Red list” 地方，就需要到那些 “Managed Quarantine Hotel” 進行十天的隔離。香港幸運地被分類於稍為好一點的 ”Amber list” 地方，只需於自己選擇的地方作自行隔離。理論上這是個較好方式，不用付出高昂費用，但想深一層，除非你自己有屋，或有熟人收容，不然你也要找酒店或 Airbnb，更要自己安排一日三餐，其實更麻煩。
我最終預訂了一間非常新的 Airbnb Studio flat，地點很好，樓下有巴士站，步行往火車站亦不需十五分鐘，更重要是對面街有 Sainsbury’s Local，購買日常所需亦非常方便。有極佳的配套費用亦當然不低。
When looking for accommodation upon arrival, I had the following considerations as this would also be our interim home before getting a permanent accommodation.
- Duration should at last be one month. Isolation normally took 10 days (there are situations that longer time may be required) and the lead time on moving into permanent accommodation might even be longer than expected. In fact, I had talked with my Airbnb host in advance on the possible extension.
- Located near my preferred areas of future accommodation. This would allow me to have a better understanding on those areas and see if it really suited us.
- Proximity to bus stops or railway stations. I wouldn’t have a car upon arrival and close to public transportation would be more convenient to us.
- 租期不要太短 – 我建議最少一個月。隔離用上最少十天（不是十天嗎？我稍後會再分享），再加上租屋不易，交吉時間也未必配合到，可能要留在這裡更耐。我會預先同 Airbnb 的 host 提出廷長的可能。
- 鄰近日後想居住的地區 – 睇樓會更方便，亦可感受下這區是否真的如自己所想，環境是否一家人都喜歡。
- 鄰近火車站，巴士站 – 初到英國不會即時買車，出入主要是靠公共交通工具，鄰近車站會省下不少腳骨力。
UK is a place where people will be respected by the government, and will not be treated as one who will break the law. During isolation, colleagues from NHS will contact you over the phone. Asking for your health condition and see if there is any sign of COVID-19 infection. They will remind you to stay indoors and whether support is required.
Being a responsible Hongkonger, we have to do our very best to complete the isolation and stay indoor whenever possible.
How to achieve this? Let’s take a look at what I did.
英國是個尊重人民的地方，不會認定你會犯法。隔離期間，NHS 人員會不時致電問候你的情況，有沒有 COVID-19 的病徵，提醒你應留在室內，及是否需要幫助。
Transportation to place of Isolation 到步交通
Avoid taking public transportation and reserved private transportation from the airport to my interim accommodation.
I had chosen Carrot Car. Charge may not be the lowest but with a reasonably good service.
我用的是 Carrot Car，價錢不算太便宜，但服務不錯。
Meals for Isolation 隔離飲食
Downloaded and registered food delivery Apps like Deliveroo or Just Eat for home delivery of daily meals. Food chain like Domino Pizza or those cafes close to your living place would also be another good choice.
Somehow foods available in UK may not suit our stomach, making a good choice is definitely not easy.
Foods and Groceries 家居食材用品
Similarly, downloaded and registered groceries Apps for online ordering of foods like bread and instant foods. My Airbnb came with a fully equipped kitchen and I would also order fresh meats, vegetables, rice and pasta to prepare our own meals. What I had chosen are Sainsbury’s, Ocado and ASDA. Personally I didn’t see any significant difference among them.
My wife had also brought with us a small pack of rice, instant noodles and canned foods. Using the newly bought tiny rice cooker, we had prepared meals before our online orders were delivered.
With the nice kitchen, meats and vegetables, we managed to prepare almost all our meals during the isolation.
Covid-19 Test Arrangement 檢疫安排
We had ordered our Covid-19 Test Kits from Corporate Travel Management (CTM). Upon receiving the confirmation email, I submitted our Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) using the Test Kit Order Reference numbers and the Airbnb address. The Test Kits will be shipped to our isolation address prior to the second and eighth day of isolation. Simply follow the provided instructions, collect the test sample and mail back to NHS via the Priority Postbox service. Test results will then be sent to us via email and SMS.
Things usually go wild and we had to accept it anyway. The Airbnb I reserved was an apartment redeveloped from an old office building. Right before leaving Hong Kong, I noticed that the Post Code provided by Airbnb was the original one before redevelopment. Under normal circumstances, we can change the delivery address with the delivery confirmation email sent by Royal Mail. It turned out the notification email was sent out while I was on the plane. I had no way to correct it and all the Test Kits were returned to NHS.
I tried to contact CTM for address change on arrival but was in vain. In the end, I had to contact 119 for assistance and the Test Kits were then resent to us on the third day of the isolation. Quickly we performed the test sample collection and had them mailed to NHS test centre via the Priority Postbox in front of the Airbnb. That was also my first time “escaping” from the isolation.
In the following days I still couldn’t get in touch with CTM and 119 was contacted again for the second round of Test Kits delivery. The Kits arrived early next morning and our final test results were subsequently available in late evening of the tenth day. Bravo, all tested negative and we had completed our isolation.
By the way, if we failed to timely sought for assistance from 119 or if there was delay in the delivery, the actual isolation might taken even longer than expected.
My friend also had delivery of his Test Kit missing. Despite the kits were ordered from other third party provider, the resend was again fulfilled by NHS 119.
I believed these undesirable situation were not single occurrence. Similar cases of poor management of third party providers were also very common with the Hong Kong SAR Government. Nevertheless, the UK government is willing to take up the responsibility in ensuring proper Covid-19 testing was in place.
Of course, wasting tax payers’ money is another issue to be addressed!
出發前經 Corporate Travel Management (CTM) 預約了兩次的檢疫安排，收到確認電郵，再把對應的 Covid-19 Test Kit Order Reference 及隔離地址經網上系統填報至 Passenger Locator Form (PLF) 便完成。Test Kits 會在第二天及第八天前準時送至隔離居所，依據附上的步驟完成採樣後，便可通過 Royal Mail 的 Priority Postbox 寄回 NHS 的檢測中心，結果亦會經電郵及 SMS 送回。
當然世事往往不似預期，由于我訂的 Airbnb 是一間改建的辦公大樓，出發前一天發覺 Airbnb 給我的是重建前的 Post Code。正常做法你可經 Royal Mail 的派發確認電郵更改地址，遺憾那刻我正在飛機上，根本收不到通知，更沒可能更正 Post Code，結果一家人的 Test Kits 都給打回頭了。
到步後即時接觸 CTM，但怎樣都聯絡不上，在無計可施下，唯有在隔離第二天清晨致電 119 求助，一番唇舌下終於安排了第三天再送上 Test Kits。採樣完成後，極速跑到樓下的 Priority Postbox 送出樣本，這亦是第一次走到街上呼吸新鮮空氣。
往後數天繼續聯絡 CTM 亦不成功，到了第八天只好再求助於 119，隔天送上，可幸的是仍可在第十天傍晚收到檢測結果，一家人終於順利完成隔離！
如果未能盡早聯絡上 119 或補送上有阻滯的話，整個隔離便有可能被延長。
朋友亦有寄失 Test Kits 的情况，雖然原先是經其他的承辦商安排，最後也是透過 119 補上。
In case you still cannot fulfil your needs during the isolation, you may contact the NHS Volunteer Responders service to assist you in the collection of food orders and medicine collection, etc.
假若你已盡了力但仍未能解决隔離時的生活所需，你亦可透過 NHS 的義工 提供購物、藥物收集等服務。
Other Support Arrangement 其他相關安排
During isolation, you may also need to access some of the government official mobile Apps like “Royal Mail“, etc. If you are using Apple iPhone or iPad with the Apple HK Appstore, you will be unable to download these Apps. Registering an UK specific AppleID will help.
隔離時亦可能要用到一些政府官方手機 Apps 如 “Royal Mail” 等，如果你和我一樣用的是 Apple iPhone 或 iPad，在原用開的 Apple HK Appstore 便無法下載。建議申請一個英國地區的 AppleID，在有需要時重新登入 UK Appstore 作下載。
In your later days in UK, this UK specific AppleID will also allow you to download other UK Country specific mobile Apps like energy management (EDF in my case) as well as outdoor public parking (RingGO, Pay by Phone), etc.
Staying at home for the 10-day isolation is definitely not an easy task. Prepare yourself and your family with some handy tools to spend your times:
- Mobile phone, tablets (make sure to take extra chargers with you)
- Books, magazines and children reading materials
- Nowadays, most of the Airbnbs are equipped with SmartTV that support viewing of BBC (iPlayer) and iTV, etc. Remember to register for a free account. If you have Netflix subscription, you can also login to watch those movies. If you prefer not to register for these services, simply watch YouTube videos to spend your days.
- 手機、平板電腦（記得帶多幾個 charger，即使人多亦不用爭）
- 現時 Airbnb 大多會有 Smart TV，可收看 BBC（iPlayer）、iTV 等，登記個免費戶口便可使用。如你有 Netflix 戶口的話，亦可登入即時使用。不想登記的話，收看 YouTube 又可以過一天！
Last but not least, stay calm and have a peaceful self isolation.
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