Tuesday 28th September 2021
Military personnel regularly deploy to exercises and operations around the world, but the MOD must protect its people and those in deployed locations from Coronavirus.
In July 2020 a quarantine facility (QFAC) was set up at RAF Wittering. The QFAC can hold over 100 deploying MoD personnel in quarantine for up to two weeks, and tests them regularly to ensure nobody with Coronavirus goes overseas. At least two negative PCR tests are required before they can depart.
The QFAC is run by Base Support Squadron at RAF Wittering, which manages the Station’s accommodation, catering and retail services in partnership with ESS. Flying Officer Caroline Turner is the Contract Support Officer. She said: “Personnel are not being quarantined at RAF Wittering because the MoD suspects they have Covid-19, they are here to stay safe and reduce the risk of taking Coronavirus abroad.”
Quarantined personnel do not mix with Station personnel or use the amenities, but instead exercise and eat separately. People staying in the QFAC are placed in small groups, which do not to gather together or mix. There is no increased risk of infection to RAF Wittering personnel, their families, or members of the public.
During a lunchtime service on Wednesday 22nd September, Catering Flight served the 100,000th QFAC meal. Award Winning Chef, Corporal Chris Morrell is Head Chef in the QFAC. He said: “Our rationale has been about making the food great, and the eating environment Covid-safe. Each group has an allocated mealtime; ten minutes to sanitise hands, choose meals and get seated, then twenty minutes to eat.”
To eliminate multiple hands touching the same items, only Chefs can serve the menu choices. Condiments have been removed from the dining tables and are only available in individual sachets.
Corporal Morrell is a member of the Combined Services Culinary Arts Team, which is made up of leading MoD Chefs. He continued: “Because food affects morale, we have a series of varied and tasty menus. QFAC personnel can’t leave the Station, so there’s a serious responsibility on us to provide a nutritionally balanced and delicious diet. Our industry partners in ESS have been genuinely flexible and supportive in making this happen.”
The QFAC Chefs have catered for every dietary requirement, as well as creating themed menus. Personnel staying in the QFAC did not miss out on the fine Scottish tradition that is Burns’ Night. A favourite over the last fifteen months has been the Korean Fried Chicken, which has gone down well with almost everyone.
Wing Commander Jez Case is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering. He said: “The QFAC has allowed personnel from all three Services, as well as civil servants, to continue deploying on operations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. This essential activity has taken a significant amount of work from personnel across RAF Wittering.”
The Station Commander concluded: “It is testament to their efforts that Defence has continued to deploy personnel where required, and that there has been no cross-contamination between residents of the QFAC and Wittering personnel. This has been a fantastic team effort by both service personnel and Defence contractors, particularly ESS, and the entire team have my thanks.”
See also: RAF Wittering and Stamford Parade