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UK 14-day arrivals quarantine – the FACTS, from the official documentation

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A few people asked why we have not published anything over the weekend on the proposed quarantine measures for people entering the United Kingdom.

The reason is that we were keen to see the exact documentation first, as sharing media speculation is not hugely helpful.  This afternoon the Government published “OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy”.  You can download it here.

Here is the text:

International travel:  As the level of infection in the UK reduces, and the Government prepares for social contact to increase, it will be important to manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from abroad. Therefore, in order to keep overall levels of infection down and in line with many other countries, the Government will introduce a series of measures and restrictions at the UK border. This will contribute to keeping the overall number of transmissions in the UK as low as possible.

First, alongside increased information about the UK’s social distancing regime at the border, the Government will require all international arrivals to supply their contact and accommodation information. They will also be strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.

UK 14-day arrivals quarantine - the FACTS

Second, the Government will require all international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK. Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government.

The Government is working closely with the devolved administrations to coordinate implementation across the UK. Small exemptions to these measures will be in place to provide for continued security of supply into the UK and so as not to impede work supporting national security or critical infrastructure and to meet the UK’s international obligations. All journeys within the Common Travel Area will also be exempt from these measures.

These international travel measures will not come into force on 13 May but will be introduced as soon as possible. Further details, and guidance, will be set out shortly, and the measures and list of exemptions will be kept under regular review.”

There are a few things here to note:

It does not apply to trips within the Common Travel Area.  This includes the Republic of Ireland, which means that you can fly to Dublin and then onto somewhere else if you wish.

There is no mention of the exception for France which we know has been agreed.  If there are exceptions for France and Ireland, logically you should include all of the Schengen countries too.

There is an implication in this wording that it does not apply to UK citizens returning, but I accept that this does not match with what has been discussed elsewhere. (EDIT: The Government has confirmed that it does apply to returning UK residents.)

There is no mention here of the fact that rail and ferries are exempt which is what was implied by the Prime Minister last night.  If Eurostar was meant to be included, however, it would make the French exemption look odd.

Comments (95)

  • Philip says:

    Lets face it , this is just wishful thinking , it is clear already that easing leads to rapid spread that of course is reported some period later , it defies common sense to travel until a vaccine is available .

    • Ian M says:

      What if there’s still no vaccine in 2 years from now? How about 5 years from now? 10?

      • Phil says:

        Agreed, there is no guarantee that a vaccine will be forthcoming. Other controls will be necessary to enable travel.

      • Rob says:

        It’s just a mental readjustment needed. For most of human history people accepted that they would be dead by 30 and it would be a fairly painful one too. Whenever you get in a car or an aircraft you know you are doing something dangerous but you accept it. You now need to bring this thinking to the rest of your life too. Yes, if you go out you might catch something and it might kill you. Get used to it.

    • Ronald Jacobs says:

      Problem here is that it is possible there will never be a vaccine.

  • guesswho2000 says:

    Is it just me misunderstanding something, or is this the most lukewarm proposal ever? Surely, literally anyone can just go to either France or Ireland and make their way into the UK, iso free?

    • Nick_C says:

      “Further details, and guidance, will be set out shortly”

      Pointless speculating until we have those further details.

      • mr_jetlag says:

        Thats ok, you can meet up with one parent and your other parent can meet up with you at the same time. Problem solved. /s

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Fair point. I get they’re trying to give people whatever info they can, but seems to me like giving no information would have been better in this instance, until it could be further clarified. But each to their own I guess.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Pointless yes but much hard to speculate once the facts are known..

  • Geoff says:

    I had assumed that the France and Ireland exemptions were based on having a tunnel from one and an open border from the other.

    Isn’t your point that you ‘can fly to Dublin and then onto somewhere else’ the wrong way round? The concern would be that you could fly into Dublin – and then on the UK with no limitation. But if both of those countries already have their own quarantine process, anyone should be clear of infection.

    And what is the guarantee that you will remain in quarantine in your own home – and what are the requirements for that quarantine? Can you go out for food, in which case it is hardly quarantine, or do you have to get it delivered – isn’t that why quarantines were in hotels – so that all those things could be provided whilst remaining ‘properly’ quarantined?

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Yes though this supposes that Ireland/France and the U.K. each have the same standards of checks in order for that to work.

      You might recall that the PM struggled with essentially the exact same concept when discussing customs arrangements upon leaving the EU.

  • Caro says:

    Does anyone have any insight as to when the quarantine will take effect? End of May is a bit vague. I have a badly timed relocation back to the UK at the end of the month. I have already delayed it by a month.

  • Henry Young says:

    Seems rather unfair on those who for example had Covid19 back in Jan/Feb and have antibody test documentation showing specific antibodies over an acceptable threshold. Are we to be prevented from availing our hard earned superpower ?

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      So far as I understand it there isn’t a country on earth with an antibody test that could be used for this

      • Anthony says:

        If the immunity cannot prevent people from getting infected again, there will be no point to develop a vaccine since it won’t work.

    • mvcvz says:

      Breaking news. You have no superpower (other than perhaps overwhelming stupidity). Even if you test positive for Covid-19 antibody, it does not follow that you have substantive immunity to further infection, either right now or in the face of any future mutations of the virus.

  • Carol says:

    Are care workers flying to the uk to work exempt from 14 day quarantine?

  • Ronald Jacobs says:

    In the absence of a specific exception, I think “international arrivals” must be taken to include returning UK nationals.