Coronavirus cruise ship quarantine Brits have no idea when they can return to UK

8 March 2020, 20:36 | Updated: 8 March 2020, 20:41

File photo: The Grand Princess is due to dock in Oakland, California, on Monday
File photo: The Grand Princess is due to dock in Oakland, California, on Monday. Picture: PA

By Megan White

A group of Brits being quarantined onboard a coronavirus-hit cruise ship say they have no idea when they will be able to return to the UK.

Although the Grand Princess is due to dock in Oakland, California, on Monday, only passengers requiring treatment and state residents will be allowed to disembark.

It is not known what will happen those from other countries, with one Brit saying there is “no plan” for international passengers.

Justine Griffin, from Coventry but living in Leicestershire, was travelling on the ship with her husband Dave and friends Jan and Allen Duffin, and Sharon and Steve Lane, when it was placed into quarantine.

The couple renewed their vows on board for their 25th wedding anniversary.

(Front to back) Justine and Dave Griffin, Sharon and Steve Lane from their balconies on the Grand Princess
(Front to back) Justine and Dave Griffin, Sharon and Steve Lane from their balconies on the Grand Princess. Picture: Justine Griffin

The couple have not been tested for the coronavirus but believe they will have to enter quarantine in the UK for a further two weeks when they return home.

Mrs Griffin said: "We won't be getting off tomorrow as we are at the bottom of the list. First the sick then Californians, then any other Americans.

“They have no plans for international passengers yet - rumours going round about Texas but nothing concrete yet.

"The longer it takes to get us to England the longer we're away from our family. We both have medical appointments to attend, and Dave is having a shoulder replacement operation.

"I've just got in contact with our MP back in England to try and see what's happening. We have been told nothing from the English government or embassy.

Grand Princess cruise ship is seen from Pacifica, California, United States, on March 8
Grand Princess cruise ship is seen from Pacifica, California, United States, on March 8. Picture: PA

“The international number my sister contacted back home said they would call back in eight hours - that was two days ago.

"I had to tell my youngest child I'm not coming home and I don't know when I will be. He was so upset - he's only eight and we're his special guardians so he doesn't deal well with things changing, it's heart-breaking."

Mrs Griffin said an announcement came while the couples were on deck that the ship had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence that the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of nearly 20 cases of Covid-19 that had resulted in at least one death after a previous voyage.

She said: "It came over the ship sound system and we were given an hour to get lunch, which was like a cattle market, and then get back to our cabins.

"It is very scary but angry as well. We were going to Singapore and Thailand and Bali on a cruise but it was cancelled the week before we were due to go. This cruise was the only one we could get that would work out with work and childcare arrangements.

"They quarantined the other people who had been on the overlapping cruise the day before us in their rooms so they should have told us then so we could have quarantined ourselves sooner.

“I have rheumatoid arthritis and take immuno-suppressant drugs, so I'm waiting to hear if I can still take them."

The couple are in a room next to two of their friends, Sharon and Steve Lane, so they are able to speak across the balcony divider.

Both women are self-employed and Mrs Griffin said: "If we don't work, we don't get paid."

The ship is operated by Princess Cruises, who also own the Diamond Princess, which was placed into quarantine in Japan last month.

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