Earlier last month, the Prime Minister unveiled the steps necessary to ease the UK out of its third lockdown. These are travel restrictions currently in place to travel into the UK.
Travelling into England
Everybody who travels into England must quarantine for 10 days. This must either be done in the place the person is staying (second home, holiday home, hotel, etc.) or in one of the UK’s managed quarantine hotels.
Determining which you need to do depends on where you travelled in the 10 days before arriving in England.
If you have travelled through one of the countries in the UK’s “red list” during the 10 days before entering England, then you will need to quarantine in one of the UK’s managed quarantine hotels. The “red list” of countries currently is:
- Cape Verde
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo
- French Guiana
- Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Please note that the above rule regarding the “red list” applies only to British citizens, Irish citizens, or people who have the right to live in the UK. If you are not British, Irish or have the right to live in the UK then you will not be allowed to enter the country at all if you have been to one of the destinations on the red list!
Everyone arriving in the UK must also then get two coronavirus tests after arriving in the country. These tests need to be booked before travelling to England.
Before travelling, you must provide your contact details using this online “Passenger Locator” form at least 48 hours before your departure.
You also need to carry out a coronavirus test a maximum of three days before travelling to the UK. Failure to provide a negative-result COVID-19 test at the border could result in a fine of £500you. Ouch!
Children under eleven do not need a test, nor do people travelling from Ireland, Ascension, Falkland Islands or St Helena.
Ending quarantine early
There is a system in place to end quarantine early. It is called the “Test to Release” scheme. (If the name makes you feel a bit like a trapped animal in a cage, well, you can be forgiven.)
After 5 days, you will be allowed to take a private coronavirus test to determine if you are infected with COVID-19. If the test is negative, you may end your self-isolation early.
Testing privately, however, does not obviate you from needing to take the other two tests.
Please note, however, that if you travelled to one of the countries on the red list, you will not be allowed to end self-isolation early using the “Test to Release” scheme.
Travelling into Scotland
The rules for travelling into Scotland are almost identical to those for travelling into England.
Travel within Scotland is currently forbidden as many areas are currently in lockdown.
Travel from Scotland to the UK or abroad is currently forbidden unless there is an exception. The list of exceptions is extensive and includes such things as:
– Travel for work
– Travel to school
– Travel for essential shopping
– Healthcare-related travel
– Travel for childcare
– Travel for parental support services
– Travel to donate blood
And numerous other exceptions. You can find the full list or coronavirus travel updates here.
Travelling to Wales
If you are travelling into Wales from the Common Travel Area (CTA), including from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, then you will not need to self-isolate for 10 days.
Anyone who has been in a country on the above “red list” in the previous 10 days will not be allowed to enter Wales! The only way to enter Wales in these cases is to come in through one of the other ports of entry in the UK, isolate for 10 days in managed quarantine, and then travel to Wales.
Some people are exempted from quarantine.
If you do need to isolate, you must travel directly to your place of isolation with no stops in between.
Travelling to Northern Ireland
Only people with a legally permitted reason are allowed to travel outside of the Common Travel Area.
The rules for entering and leaving Northern Ireland are extensive and could probably fill a book.
In essence, to enter Northern Ireland, you must:
– Take a COVID test 3 days before your departure. You will only be permitted to travel if your test is negative.
– Fill in the Passenger Locator form before departure (same as for the UK above)
– Self-isolate for ten days.
Unlike Scotland, England and Wales, travelling from a Red List country into Northern Ireland does not obligate you to fork over nearly two-thousand quid to stay in a government-sanctioned managed hotel. But your “entire household” does need to isolate for 10 days.
If, however, you travel through Great Britain into Ireland, you will need to follow any rules in place in Great Britain (covered above).
More information on Northern Ireland’s rules can be found here.