ASYLUM seekers newly housed in a Bromsgrove hotel fully understand the need to practise social distancing in order to limit the spread of coronavirus, government chiefs insist.

The Advertiser understands more than 100 asylum seekers are being housed at the Britannia Bromsgrove Hotel and Spa site, formerly owned by Hilton, in Catshill.

Residents have aired concerns about whether the new arrivals are totally conversant with social distancing guidelines, given Bromsgrove has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the county.

But public service provider Serco, which is housing the asylum seekers on behalf of the government, says there is no reason for concern.

Jenni Halliday, Serco contract director for asylum seeker accommodation, said: “Serco has taken all appropriate measures and precautions to look after the asylum seekers in our care in line with Government and PHE guidelines and instructions.

“All the asylum seekers are issued with robust PHE (Public Health England) approved written guidance on Covid-19 in respect of social distancing, self-isolation and advice on personal hygiene/self-care.

“Serco is also working closely with the police to ensure that, as with any other member of the population, if any individuals do not follow social distancing guidance when outside the hotel, that we work together to reinforce this message.

“Serco has been working extensively with the local community through the local authority officials, the Police, NHS and charities to prepare for the arrival of these vulnerable asylum seekers into the community.

“The overall reaction has been incredibly supportive and we are extremely grateful for the constructive approach that has been taken by most people.”

The Advertiser understands all asylum seekers at the hotel have been issued literature in their own language to stress the importance of hygiene, hand-washing and recognising coronavirus symptoms.

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the Home Office has deferred all asylum applications to the end of June – but asylum seekers entering the country still need to be accommodated until then.

As a result, a number of local authorities, including Bromsgrove District Council, have been approached and asked to allow asylum seekers to be accommodated in their area.

A Home Office Spokesperson said: “We have moved asylum seekers, where necessary to do so, into temporary accommodation to protect them and ensure social distancing.

"This is to help stop the spread of coronavirus in line with public health guidance.

“We would like to acknowledge the work that local authorities have done to support these temporary arrangements.”