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Quarantine and COVID Test Now Required for All Travel to England

By Michelle Baran

Jan 19, 2021

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Travel to the United Kingdom requires a quarantine—no matter where you are arriving from.

Photo by S. Borisov/Shuterstock

Travel to the United Kingdom requires a quarantine—no matter where you are arriving from.

The United Kingdom has canceled its travel corridor program, which allowed some travelers to bypass quarantine.

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Anyone who arrives in the United Kingdom is now required to quarantine for 10 days—and those arriving in England must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure.

Effective January 18, the U.K. canceled its travel corridor program, which allowed travelers from a frequently updated list of countries to bypass the otherwise mandatory 10-day quarantine requirement. The most recent incarnation of the list had approximately 60 countries or territories on it. The new rule applies to British citizens returning home as well. 

Travelers to England can reduce their 10-day quarantine period if they test negative for the coronavirus. As part of the government’s Test to Release option, travelers can opt to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test after 5 full days of self-isolation, and if the test comes back negative they are allowed to skip the remainder of the 10-day quarantine. 

Travelers arriving in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales must self-isolate for 10 days and do not have the shortened quarantine option.

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Additionally, passengers who arrive in England from outside the U.K., Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man must now provide proof of a negative PCR, loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) or antigen COVID-19 test taken within three days of traveling to England. Evidence of the test result will need to be provided prior to boarding, and passengers without the negative test result should not be allowed to board, according to the new U.K. government directive. Anyone arriving in England without the negative test result can be fined up to £500 (US $680).

Children age 11 and younger are exempt from the testing requirement, as are those traveling from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Ascension, Falkland Islands, or St. Helena.

Also exempt are those traveling for an urgent medical treatment or accompanying someone who is, those who have a valid medical exception (with a doctor’s note verifying), flight crew, border and customs officials, seamen, some essential infrastructure workers, defense personnel, government contractors, and government officials.

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The U.K.’s quarantine requirement

Those traveling to the United Kingdom from abroad will need to fill out a passenger locator form prior to arrival in the U.K., on which they will provide U.K. border control with their contact details, including their phone number and the address of their U.K. accommodation where they will self-isolate for 10 days.

Those who fail to self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 (or approximately US$1,270), and if they do not provide accurate contact details, they can be fined up to £3,200 (about US$4,070).

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While self-isolating, travelers are not allowed to have visitors—and should only have contact with those they traveled with or the people who they are staying with. Those in quarantine cannot leave for work or school or to visit public areas, and should avoid going grocery shopping if they can. They should exercise within their home or quarantine location. Leaving a quarantine location should be limited to urgent medical needs, obtaining basic necessities such as food and medication, to attend a funeral of a close relative, or for an emergency.

New U.K. travel bans

The United Kingdom last week also banned travel from all of South America as well as Portugal amid concerns over a new variant of the coronavirus in Brazil, British authorities announced on January 14.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said starting on January 15, arrivals from more than a dozen countries, including Argentina, Chile, and Peru, will be halted “following evidence of a new variant in Brazil,” the Associated Press reported. Beyond South America, the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa and Panama in Central America were also hit with travel bans.

Many countries, including Canada, India, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, have also banned travel from the U.K. following the discovery of another, more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the U.K.

A new national lockdown went into effect in England on January 5 as cases there have surged. 

This story originally appeared on March 11, 2020, and has been updated on January 19, 2021, to include current information. The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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