UK quarantine plan: what will it mean for travellers?

Confirmed UK cases New cases UK deaths England Scotland Wales NI Data from Public Health England at ">[embedded content]

Why is this happening now?

The Home Office says that as the transmission rate in the UK falls and the number of travellers arriving increases, imported cases may pose a larger threat as they could become a higher proportion of the overall number of infections in the UK and increase the spread of the disease. Air passenger arrivals into the UK have plunged 99% during the lockdown period, although at least 95,000 people arrived in April alone.

Why didn't it happen before?

The Home Office chief scientific adviser, Prof John Aston, says that while there has been significant community transmission of the virus within the UK, the impact of putting in place additional border restrictions would have been negligible to the spread of the virus. However, the government has faced criticism for not enforcing stricter measures in the first three months of the year when the pandemic began.

In late February and early March the policy was to advise all arrivals from a shortlist of global regions, including Wuhan in China, to self-isolate, but this was withdrawn on 13 March. Since then arrivals have been given leaflets on the border advising them of lockdown restrictions.

Are there any exemptions?

There will be limited exemptions and a full list will be published on Gov.uk. The Home Office has already confirmed the following will be exempt:

  • Road haulage and freight workers, to ensure the supply of goods is not impacted.

  • Medical professionals who are travelling to help with the fight against coronavirus.

  • Anyone moving from within the common travel area, covering Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

  • Seasonal agricultural workers who will self-isolate on the property where they are working.

How long will it last?

The government is going to review the measures every three weeks.

Looking further ahead, it has said it will look at more options including air bridges - agreements between countries who both have low transmission rates to recognise their respective screening measures for departing passengers and removing the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers.

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