United Kingdom - R (AQS) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWHC 843 (Admin)

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
AQS v SSHD [2020] EWHC 843 (Admin)
Court Name:
High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division Administrative Court
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The High Court has issued a judgment following an application for an interim order. The matter concerns the accommodation of asylum-seekers who display Covid-19 symptoms, who bears the responsibility for accommodating asylum-seekers who are symptomatic, and the communication of policy and practice in this area.


AQS is a destitute asylum seeker with mental health difficulties. He was in shared accommodation until 19 March 2020, when another man moved in. This other man had “a persistent cough and night sweats”, which AQS worried was related to COVID-19.

The next day, AQS awoke with COVID-19 symptoms of his own. He was moved into his own room, but felt that this was too little too late, and there was “an incident” with the manager during which AQS “caused some property damage”. Police were called and AQS was kicked out.

Over the next few days, while being housed by different individuals, AQS tried to get back into asylum accommodation. He contacted Migrant Health Limited and was told to call NHS 111 and to ask for accommodation through the NHS. He was finally housed in “a facility operated specifically for those entitled to asylum accommodation with symptoms of Covid-19” on Sunday 29 March.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The issue here is whether the Home Office operated a policy of refusing to house asylum seekers with COVID-19 symptoms. The Home Office denies that there was a deliberate policy, admitting only that there had been “a bit of confusion” about the accommodation of asylum seekers.

The judge was clear that it is the the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) who is responsible for the clear communication of policy and information: “there is also no question that communication, whether of measures, guidance or policy, is of crucial importance”. (33)

The judgment confirms that SSHD has procured additional accommodation specifically for persons suffering from Covid-19 to self-isolate and that no asylum-seekers will be required to leave asylum support accommodation before the end of June.

The Court declines to make an order, as sought on behalf of AQS, that would expect the Secretary of State in these particular proceedings “urgently to clarify further her policy on accommodating persons suspected of Covid 19 and her communication of that policy ...”.


Interim order not discharged.

Order not granted.


This summary was written by Andra Oprea, LLM Student at Queen Mary University London.