Council leaders are calling for a quarantine hotel for travellers to “urgently close” following an outbreak of coronavirus.
The Penta Hotel in Oxford Road, Reading, has been linked to a “significant” number of positive cases, with the majority identified as the Indian variant – renamed the Delta variant by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A total of 44 COVID cases have been identified among the residents and staff inside, according to Reading Borough Council.
The facility, which was opened on 29 April and is run by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), first reported the outbreak to the council on 9 May.
A visit by the Council’s Regulatory Services team on 1 June identified additional concerns, the council said in a statement.
Despite efforts to tackle the spread, the council said it was “unconvinced” that it was under control or that safety measures put in place were good enough.
Council leader Jason Brock said: "The council is clear that having seen the DHSC's quarantine hotel in operation over a number of weeks, it does not have confidence that robust enough safety measures have been in place and that it needs to be shut down.
Watch: UK hotel quarantine: What are the rules?
"This is despite the council's own regulatory services team visiting the facility and making a number of recommendations, both soon after the council was informed of the first outbreak at the hotel, and more recently.”
Brock said that the DHSC has “implemented further control measures” but has refused the council’s request to close, adding: “We would go further and question the wisdom of locating a quarantine facility of this kind in the centre of a built-up town centre like Reading.”
The council believes at least three cases in the wider community were directly linked to the outbreak at the hotel.
The authority added that the spread "could have been avoided had the correct safety procedures been in place from when the hotel first opened".
Yahoo News UK has contacted the DHSC for a comment.
What are quarantine hotels?
Since the government introduced the traffic light travel system, UK nationals or residents returning from any of the government’s “red list” countries are required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 nights.
The dedicated facilities were set up so that anyone arriving from countries where there is a high COVID rate would be isolated from the public to stop any potential outbreaks in the wider community.
Travellers are taken to the hotels directly from the airport after arrival and must remain in isolation for 10 days.
Those staying in the hotel must pay for the stay themselves, at a cost of £1,750 for the 10-day stay.
The price includes the room, meals and two negative coronavirus tests and they must be booked before travelling to the UK.
Anyone caught breaking the hotel quarantine will face fines up to £10,000.
Travellers arriving from countries on the green list do not need to quarantine upon arrival, while those coming in from countries on the amber list can also avoid the hotels but must quarantine at home for 10 days.
Watch: Careful eye to be kept on Delta variant, NHS chief says