All you need to know about the self-quarantine rules in the UK
From June 8, people entering the UK by land, sea or air, including British citizens, will have to self-isolate for 14 days. New arrivals to the UK have been down by up to 99 per cent during the lockdown compared with the same time last year. However, as Europe slowly reopened, fears of new imported cases causing a second wave of infections triggered the self-quarantine measures.
How will the self-quarantine rules be enforced?
All arrivals to the UK must self-isolate for 14 days, and provide an accommodation address at which they will stay in that period. This address must be declared on an online form which has to be filled 48 hours before travel to airports or seaports. Arrivals will be required to provide contact and address details, plus travel plans. Travellers can be fined £100 for failing to fill in a form with these details.
Surprise visits by the police will be used to check if the new arrivals are following the rules. Those in England could be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate. Relevant authorities will also be in power to prosecute or to issue unlimited fines for persistent breaches of the new self-isolation rule, or for refusal to pay a fine that has already been issued.
The new rule came into effect on June 8 and is subject to a review every three weeks, with the first one scheduled for 29 of June.
How will this impact current and future travel?
The Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel, and all passengers should also consider wearing gloves and a face mask, especially that some UK airports and airlines have made it compulsory.
As a response to the new self-quarantine rules, major airlines operating in the UK and Europe are only planning to restore 40% – 50% of their planned flight routes.
Self-quarantine is not a new idea, with many countries around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the UAE, Canada, and Greece enforcing it for months now. Countries are still being cautious, and while some are slowly easing travel restrictions, Spain for example, does it, but with the exemption of the UK travellers, who must undergo quarantine upon arrival. This is because of the coronavirus situation in the UK is still considered “serious”.
As summertime approaches, and people are keen on destressing for holidays after months in quarantine, the UK Government is looking into the possibilities of arranging for “air bridges” with countries with low coronavirus rates, where travellers from both countries would not have to self-quarantine upon arrival. So far, Portugal is the only country offering to open an air bridge to the UK.
Are there any exceptions to the self-quarantine rule in the UK?
There are exceptions to the self-quarantine rules in the UK. First of all, not all arriving in the UK must undergo the 14-day quarantine. These groups of people include:
- Road haulage and freight workers
- Medical and care professionals providing essential healthcare
- Those arriving for pre-arranged medical treatment
- Passengers in transit, if they do not pass through border control
- Seasonal agricultural workers if they self-isolate where they are working
- UK residents who ordinarily travel overseas at least once a week for work
On top of that, anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area (CTA): the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man – does not have to enter quarantine. However, you can’t avoid self-isolation by heading to these places first on your way back to the UK – a loophole termed by some as the “Dublin dodge”. Travellers from these places will only be exempt from quarantine if they have been in the CTA for at least 14 days.
Besides that, even if you must self-quarantine upon arriving in the UK, there are still certain limited situations where you can leave your accommodation, such as:
- You need urgent medical assistance (or where your doctor has advised you to get medical assistance);
- You need access to basic necessities like food and medicines, but only when you cannot arrange for these to be delivered;
- You need to access critical public services, such as social services and victim support services, but only in exceptional circumstances;
- You need to go to the funeral of a close relative;
- You need to fulfil a legal obligation, such as participate in legal proceedings, or
- There’s an emergency.
You are also not permitted to change the place where you are self-isolating, except in very limited circumstances, except where:
- A legal obligation requires you to change address, such as where you are a child whose parents live separately, and you need to move between homes as part of a shared custody agreement;
- It is necessary for you to stay overnight at the accommodation before travelling to the place where you will be self-isolating for the remainder of the 14 days;
- There’s an emergency.
With only a handful of exceptions to the new self-quarantine rule, the majority of people entering the UK will have to stay at home for the 14 days following their arrival to England. Many of you already know how that feels because of the lockdown, but self-quarantine is stricter in rules and can have a stronger impact on one’s mental health.
How can Pacific Prime help you?
As insurance brokers, our speciality lies in simplifying insurance for expatriates around the globe. For expats looking to secure a form of health insurance, Pacific Prime UK’s experts can assist with finding the perfect plan to
- Private individual health insurance
- Family health insurance
- Travel insurance
- International health insurance
On top of our core services, we take it to heart to inform our clients about the ever-changing global situation as it pertains to not only the insurance industry but also global pandemic, health and expat life matters, too. For more related articles, check our blog and make sure to read about insurance cover for COVID-19.
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When she isn’t writing, you are most likely to find Elwira in search of the perfect plant-based burger or enjoying Hong Kong’s great outdoors either at the beach or on a boat - the closer to the sea, the better!
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