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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:

UK 14-day arrivals quarantine - the FACTS

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.

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 (94)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • marcw says:

    Next week BA announcing a further job cut.

  • Nick says:

    Woweeeee a shouty clickbait headline straight out of the Daily Express (“The FACTS about Diana’s last meal”) and yet it doesn’t give any facts at all, in fact less than the equivalent BBC News story! Gotta say I expected better.

    • Blindman says:

      Did you read the linked to report?

    • BG says:

      Are you always so pleasant?

    • Rob says:

      These are the only facts we have though. Anything the BBC is reporting is NOT factual and just additional supposition.

      • Funtime says:


        But you did publish an article on what sky news was reporting the other day.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Rob, where is the implication that UK Citizens can come and go from any countries ,without self isolating
    Also do you really believe “ALL” Schengen countries “Could” be exempt
    Also fly or go to Ireland,(or France) then fly or go anywhere else and come back same way without self isolating laughable

    • Phillip says:

      Most other countries require you to declare what countries you visited in the past 14 days in their arrival COVID Questionnaires. I would expect the same here and therefore, even if you transit through Dublin/France or wherever else is exempt, you would still have to self-isolate!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Self declare you didn’t pop to somewhere your passport doesn’t get stamped

        I went to France and … (thoughts of 14 day isolation) … I went to France.

    • Rob says:

      Er … assuming the borders are open, there is no way – at all – that the UK authorities would know I had left France for Germany etc.

      • John says:

        Err… If you fly they will have access to API if they want it. Train or car then no

  • Alan says:

    Seems like too little/vague, too late!

    • M says:

      Makes little sense to me.
      Majority not wearing masks but people coming from abroad will need to self-isolate.

      • Rob says:

        Except they won’t. It is likely that immigration can check the address I give against my passport details. What do they do with a tourist who says they are off to a hotel for 14 days? Are they really checking? Unlikely. Are they then planning to get you on the way out?

        • Liam says:

          People travelling temporarily to the US have to give the address of the place they’re staying on their landing card. I’ve always wondered what happens to that information and whether it’s ever used. In that situation you also can’t give multiple addresses even if you’re planning to spend time in multiple places during your stay.

          • Mat says:

            Quite. It’s of limited use as many people will put down where they are due to stay initially for one or more nights, but then move on elsewhere.

          • Matt says:

            I suspect that the address you give to US immigration is used only for statistical purposes. Most visitors likely stay at the same address for all or most of their visit

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Indeed. Apparently the Police were performing random checks on self-iso declarations here in Australia, and indeed the press reported on several fines being issued, but personally neither I, nor my other half were “checked on” during our 14-days.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          I presume it’ll be 14-days or until departure from the country, making a <14-day stay pointless, but they can't really imprison you there…or can they?

  • Jonathan says:

    Always worth closing the stable door once the horse has bolted.

  • Secret Squirrel says:

    Or N.I? Might be part of U.K but still apart so a risk.

    • Chris K says:

      Isle of Wight? Anglesey? Rockall?

      Unfortunately not everything can be 100% perfect and you also have to consider the impact of ‘separating’ one part of the country, or even putting a border in Ireland after the fuss of the last three years, into the equation.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Lol @ Rockall, probably the safest place on earth right now.

  • Andrew says:

    7.3 Is this for foreign travellers only or British people returning home from holiday or living overseas?
    All arrivals ***including British nationals*** will be required to provide their contact information and self-isolate upon arrival, other than those on a short list of exemptions.

    • Mike says:

      Yep unfortunately the “facts” are wrong, it’s not just for international visitors, its for Brits returning home too.

      The whole idea of transiting through Dublin or Paris and then coming or going anywhere you want isn’t going to fly (geddit) either…

      • Simon says:

        How many people would actually bother to do that?

        • Mark says:

          People do for ex-EU flights….

          As Rob says if France is an exception it makes little sense not to exclude the entire Schengen area, since people can travel freely within it (at least insofar as temporary COVID controls allow).

          • Lady London says:

            not freely.Spain’s still blocking everyone that’s not a resident. And demanding particularly stringent proof.

    • Dubious says:

      If the official advise does not yet include wearing a mask….can I consider myself to be self-isolated if I wear one?? Kinda of a mobile self-isolation??

      If not, can I rent a camervan or a canal barge as my permissible isolation location?

  • Liam says:

    So, depending on other countries’ requirements for incoming travellers, you may be able to fly to, say, Dublin, Paris, or Amsterdam before flying to London, and then not have to self-isolate or give any address details?

    This seems like it’s too little, too late. At this stage, particularly given the (likely) exceptions, making masks mandatory throughout UK airports (and on flights to/from UK airports, if that’s feasible) might be do more to help things overall.

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