On 15 February 2021, the UK government imposed stricter requirements on individuals travelling or transiting from any of the 33 countries (‘red list countries’) that have had a travel ban to England applied. Separate advice applies to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Only British citizens, Irish citizens, and those with UK residence rights are able to enter the United Kingdom if they have visited or transited through a red list country in the 10 days prior to entry to England.
These individuals will need to quarantine in a government-managed hotel for 10 days (11 nights) from the date of their arrival. They must also abide by the following requirements.
- Individuals must only arrive at an authorised airport. According to the guidance, authorised airports include only Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, Birmingham Airport, and Farnborough Airport, although ‘[o]ther ports of entry may be added in the future.’ Passengers whose flights are due to arrive at a different airport must reschedule them to an authorised airport.
- Individuals must provide a negative COVID-19 test to travel to the UK. The test must be taken in the three days prior to departure, and must be negative in order to travel or board the plane. Their results will need to be provided upon arrival in the UK, or else a fine of £500 could be imposed.
- Individuals must reside in a government-managed hotel. The 10-day quarantine period must be in one of the government-managed hotels and reserved via the booking portal (before arriving in England). The fee for the ‘quarantine package’ for one adult is £1,750. To add another person over the age of 12 to the booking will cost £650, or £325 for a child between the ages of 5 and 12. This price includes transport to and from the hotel, meals, and COVID-19 testing on the second and eighth days of the 10-day quarantine period.
- Individuals must complete an online ‘passenger locator form’ in the 48 hours prior to travelling to the UK. The form is intended to provide a passenger’s journey and contact details. Passengers who do not complete the form may face delays in entering England or they could be fined or refused entry. Once the form has been completed, passengers will receive a confirmation email with a document attached. The document will contain a QR code that will be scanned by the Border Force to confirm that the form has been completed successfully.
Sanctions may be imposed on passengers who provide false or deliberately misleading information on the passenger locator form. Passengers who provide inaccurate information may be fined ‘up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both’. If the quarantine rules are broken, fines of up to £10,000 may be imposed.
The situation with COVID-19 and pre-entry requirements to the UK is constantly changing, and it is also likely that other countries may be added (or removed) from the red list. Individuals may want to review the guidance for updates and further information on how to quarantine when arriving in England.
The government also provides guidance for passengers who are not travelling to England from red list countries.
Passengers may not directly travel to Wales if they have visited or passed through a red list country in the previous 10 days. They must arrive through one of the designated ports of entry to the UK in England or Scotland and ‘isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel.’
They must also complete a passenger locator form, have proof of a negative COVID-19 test (taken no more than 72 hours before departure), and also take a test on or before the second day and on or after the eighth day of quarantining.
Although part of the UK, different rules apply regarding quarantine for individuals arriving in Scotland. All travellers flying into Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area (not just the red-list countries) must book and pay for managed isolation in quarantine hotels. The Common Travel Area comprises of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.
The following requirements apply for individuals arriving by air into Scotland.
- Individuals must provide a negative COVID-19 result during the three days before travel.
- Individuals must ‘book and pay for managed isolation in a quarantine hotel for at least 10 days from the point of arrival’.
- Individuals must ‘complete an online passenger locator form before travelling, and provide contact details, travel details and the address of [the] final destination’.
- Individuals will also need to provide the booking reference for the quarantine package.
- Individuals must be tested on the second and eighth days of the 10-day quarantine period.
- Individuals must follow the national rules on ‘Coronavirus in Scotland.’
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.
Beejal Nathwani-White is a paralegal in the London office of Ogletree Deakins.