Coronavirus: What are the UK travel quarantine rules?

Coronavirus: What are the UK travel quarantine rules?

A woman wearing a mask in the departures hall at Heathrow Airport, standing next to a signImage copyright

A two-week quarantine period for those entering the UK will soon be lifted for some travellers to England.

The quarantine policy was introduced in June to protect public health against imported coronavirus cases

But travellers from countries including France and Spain will be exempt from quarantine from 10 July.

What are the quarantine rules?

At present, passengers arriving in the UK by plane, ferry or train – including UK nationals – are asked to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. Travellers can be fined £100 for failing to fill in a form with these details.

One in five eligible passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules. Those in England could be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate. No-one had been fined by Border Force as of 26 June, while details of any police fines haven’t been published yet.

Passengers should drive their own car to their destination, where possible. If they don’t provide an address, the government will arrange accommodation at the traveller’s expense.

Once at their destination they must not use public transport or taxis. They must not go to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors except for essential support.

They are also not allowed to go out to buy food, or other essentials, where they can rely on others.

People returning from overseas will not be automatically eligible for statutory sick pay unless they meet the required conditions – for example displaying coronavirus symptoms.

Which countries won’t have to quarantine?

Anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area (CTA) – the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man – does not have to enter quarantine, as long as they have been in the CTA for at least 14 days.

From 10 July, travellers from dozens of countries deemed ”low risk” will also not have to go in to quarantine when they enter England.

This replaces the mooted policy of “travel corridors” or “air bridges”, which would have allowed people to travel to low-risk countries without having to quarantine at either end.

Health measures like quarantine are set by each UK nation separately. Northern Ireland will still quarantine travellers arriving from outside the UK and the Republic of Ireland, while Wales and Scotland haven’t decided whether to ease quarantine restrictions.

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Getty Images

The government will also lift its advice against all but essential international travel for selected countries from Saturday. It hasn’t given a date for when the quarantine policy will end.

Which workers are exempt from quarantine?

There are also a number of people who are exempt, regardless of their country of origin, including:

  • Road haulage and freight workers
  • Medical and care professionals providing essential healthcare
  • Seasonal agricultural workers if they self-isolate where they are working
  • UK residents who ordinarily travel overseas at least once a week for work

Image copyright
PA Media

Image caption

Seasonal agricultural workers are exempt if they self-isolate where they are working

Do other countries have quarantine rules?

Travellers could find they also have to enter quarantine when they arrive in another country, even if they do not have to quarantine in the UK. Some have introduced screening measures such as temperature checks, and entry restrictions.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Many airports have taken measures to help enforce social distancing rules.

What has the response been?

Quarantine has not been welcomed by the UK’s travel industry.

Airlines UK, which represents various airlines, said quarantine “would effectively kill off air travel”.

British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair have launched a legal challenge against the policy.

The British Ports Association, which represents ferry companies, has also spoken out against the measures – calling them “overzealous”.

Have airlines started flying again?

EasyJet has restarted a limited number of flights to European destinations, with all passengers and cabin crew told to wear face masks.

Ryanair has reintroduced 40% of its scheduled flights, with mandatory face mask wearing.

British Airways is reviewing its plans to run 50% of its schedule from July, because of the quarantine rules.

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CoronaVirus translator

What do all these terms mean?

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  • Antibodies test

    A medical test that can show if a person has had the coronavirus and now has some immunity. The test detects antibodies in the blood, which are produced by the body to fight off the disease.

  • Asymptomatic

    Someone who has a disease but does not have any of the symptoms it causes. Some studies suggest some people with coronavirus carry the disease but don’t show the common symptoms, such as a persistent cough or high temperature.

  • Containment phase

    The first part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which involved trying to identify infected people early and trace anyone who had been in close contact with them.

  • Coronavirus

    One of a group of viruses that can cause severe or mild illness in humans and animals. The coronavirus currently sweeping the world causes the disease Covid-19. The common cold and influenza (flu) are other types of coronaviruses.

  • Covid-19

    The disease caused by the coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. It primarily affects the lungs.

  • Delay phase

    The second part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, in which measures such as social distancing are used to delay its spread.

  • Fixed penalty notice

    A fine designed to deal with an offence on the spot, instead of in court. These are often for driving offences, but now also cover anti-social behaviour and breaches of the coronavirus lockdown.

  • Flatten the curve

    Health experts use a line on a chart to show numbers of new coronavirus cases. If a lot of people get the virus in a short period of time, the line might rise sharply and look a bit like a mountain. However, taking measures to reduce infections can spread cases out over a longer period and means the “curve” is flatter. This makes it easier for health systems to cope.

  • Flu

    Short for influenza, a virus that routinely causes disease in humans and animals, in seasonal epidemics.

  • Furlough

    Supports firms hit by coronavirus by temporarily helping pay the wages of some staff. It allows employees to remain on the payroll, even though they aren’t working.

  • Herd immunity

    How the spread of a disease slows after a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been exposed to it.

  • Immune

    A person whose body can withstand or fend off a disease is said to be immune to it. Once a person has recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, for example, it is thought they cannot catch it again for a certain period of time.

  • Incubation period

    The period of time between catching a disease and starting to display symptoms.

  • Intensive care

    Hospital wards which treat patients who are very ill. They are run by specially-trained healthcare staff and contain specialist equipment.

  • Lockdown

    Restrictions on movement or daily life, where public buildings are closed and people told to stay at home. Lockdowns have been imposed in several countries as part of drastic efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Mitigation phase

    The third part of the UK’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus, which will involve attempts to lessen the impact of a high number of cases on public services. This could mean the NHS halting all non-critical care and police responding to major crimes and emergencies only.

  • NHS 111

    The NHS’s 24-hour phone and online service, which offers medical advice to anyone who needs it. People in England and Wales are advised to ring the service if they are worried about their symptoms. In Scotland, they should check NHS inform, then ring their GP in office hours or 111 out of hours. In Northern Ireland, they should call their GP.

  • Outbreak

    Multiple cases of a disease occurring rapidly, in a cluster or different locations.

  • Pandemic

    An epidemic of serious disease spreading rapidly in many countries simultaneously.

  • Phase 2

    This is when the UK will start to lift some of its lockdown rules while still trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

  • PPE

    PPE, or personal protective equipment, is clothing and kit such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles used by medical staff, care workers and others to protect themselves against infection from coronavirus patients and other people who might be carrying the disease.

  • Quarantine

    The isolation of people exposed to a contagious disease to prevent its spread.

  • R0

    R0, pronounced “R-naught”, is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person. If the R0 of coronavirus in a particular population is 2, then on average each case will create two more new cases. The value therefore gives an indication of how much the infection could spread.

  • Recession

    This happens when there is a significant drop in income, jobs and sales in a country for two consecutive three-month periods.

  • Sars

    Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a type of coronavirus that emerged in Asia in 2003.

  • Self-isolation

    Staying inside and avoiding all contact with other people, with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease.

  • Social distancing

    Keeping away from other people, with the aim of slowing down transmission of a disease. The government advises not seeing friends or relatives other than those you live with, working from home where possible and avoiding public transport.

  • State of emergency

    Measures taken by a government to restrict daily life while it deals with a crisis. This can involve closing schools and workplaces, restricting the movement of people and even deploying the armed forces to support the regular emergency services.

  • Statutory instrument

    These can be used by government ministers to implement new laws or regulations, or change existing laws. They are an easier alternative to passing a full Act of Parliament.

  • Symptoms

    Any sign of disease, triggered by the body’s immune system as it attempts to fight off the infection. The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

  • Vaccine

    A treatment that causes the body to produce antibodies, which fight off a disease, and gives immunity against further infection.

  • Ventilator

    A machine that takes over breathing for the body when disease has caused the lungs to fail.

  • Virus

    A tiny agent that copies itself inside the living cells of any organism. Viruses can cause these cells to die and interrupt the body’s normal chemical processes, causing disease.

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