COVID-19: travel-related quarantine rules tightened

Please Note: All information correct at time of writing on 29 January 2021. We do our very best to make sure our information is as up to date as possible, but we’d encourage you to check the relevant government website for updates as they happen.

Further travel restrictions announced on 27 January 2021 by the government to curb the spread of new COVID variants will put in place a ‘managed isolation process’ involving 10-day quarantine without exception in a hotel for British and Irish nationals returning from the 30 countries on the government’s ‘red list’ – including Portugal and countries in Southern Africa and South America.

While the detail on how this will work are drawn up, here is a rundown of what you need to know about current travel restrictions if you employ or are employed to travel in and out of the UK for work.

Tighter travel restrictions

Travel restrictions were tightened from 18th January 2021, when all travel corridors were closed. Travellers must self-isolate after arriving in the UK, even if they have tested negative. Most people travelling to the UK from abroad need proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test result taken up to three days before departure. Further to this, travellers must provide their journey and contact details by completing a passenger locator form when entering the UK.

The government will be introducing a new requirement that those who wish to travel from the UK must first make a declaration as to why they need to travel (going on holiday is not a valid reason). The reason for travel will be checked by carriers prior to departure.

Some people don’t have to fill in a passenger locator form or take a coronavirus test or self-isolate on arrival in the UK, because of the jobs they do. A full list of jobs that qualify for travel exemptions can be found on the government website. The Home Secretary announced that these exemptions are currently under urgent review and that only those which are the “most important and with exceptional reasons” will be included going forward.

What are the current rules for those who are required to travel overseas for work purposes?

Travel from Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands

People arriving from Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands (the Common Travel Area) may not have to complete the passenger locator form or self-isolate.

Travellers do not need to complete the passenger locator form, take a coronavirus test or self-isolate if they:

  • arrive in the UK from within the Common Travel Area (CTA)
  • have only been in the CTA in the last 10 days

Travellers need to complete the passenger locator form and take a coronavirus test if they have been outside the CTA in the last 10 days. This must be completed before arriving in the UK.

People who regularly work abroad

Passenger Locator Form PCR Test Self-Isolating on arrival

Yes – to be completed before travelling to the UK

Not required

Not required – unless when staying in Scotland

People who live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week will need to complete the passenger locator form before they travel to the UK.

People that regularly work abroad, will not need to present a negative COVID-19 result test prior to departure and will not need to self-isolate if staying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. However, they will be required to self-isolate if they are staying in Scotland.

Further to this, they’ll need to show evidence that they reside in one country but work in the other and they should also be able to demonstrate that they travel between the two on a minimum of a weekly basis, for example, a season ticket.

People who live abroad but regularly work in the UK

Passenger Locator Form PCR COVID-19 Test Self-Isolating on arrival

Yes – to be completed before travelling to the UK

Yes

Not required – unless when staying in Scotland

People who live outside the UK but work in the UK and travel between their country of residence and the UK at least once a week will need to:

  • to complete the passenger locator form before travelling to the UK.
  • to take a coronavirus test before travelling to England.

Travellers that live abroad and work in the UK do not need to self-isolate if staying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. However, they will be required to self-isolate if they are staying in Scotland.

Further to this, they’ll need to show evidence that they reside in one country but work in the other and they should also be able to demonstrate that they travel between the two on a minimum of a weekly basis, for example, a season ticket.

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