Travel and lockdown: Will you have to quarantine for 14 days if you fly into the UK?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a plethora of updates to lockdown regulations. The advice ‘Stay Home’ has now been replaced with ‘Stay Alert’, with unlimited outdoor exercise now allowed and people being encouraged to return to work if they are not able to work from home. The Government has also published its COVID-19 recovery strategy alongside the Prime Minister’s pre-recorded speech announcing the loosening of the rules.

In its newly-published COVID-19 Recovery Strategy document, the Government says quarantine measures for people arriving in the UK will be introduced “as soon as possible”.

Countries that have prevented heavy outbreaks, such as New Zealand, Denmark and Norway, imposed quarantine on air travel early in their lockdown strategy.

Mr Johnson thanked the British public for “preventing a catastrophe” by following lockdown measures and staying at home.

The UK has the second-highest death toll in the world after the United States, with more than 31,000 people dead so far.


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Will returning UK residents have to quarantine?

Mr Johnson has outlined this will be the case and is likely to come into force at the end of May, but has not put forward a specific date.

The new measure means all residents and citizens arriving at a UK airport will have to self isolate for two weeks.

The rules will not just apply to air passengers, but also those arriving by other means of travel such as ferry or train as well.

The Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy reads: “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.

This does not include those flying in from the Republic of Ireland or France.

The separate agreement between the Prime Minister and President Emmanuel Macron declares: “No quarantine measures would apply to travellers coming from France at this stage; any measures on either side would be taken in a concerted and reciprocal manner.”

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What about non-residents?

This is much less clear, as those who are flying into the UK will usually only be here for a short amount of time, such as if they were on holiday or visiting family.

Any new quarantine rules would make it unlikely they would complete their trip.

Exactly how all this will be enforced is yet to come to become clear.

The Government’s recovery strategy document continues: “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 Metropolitan Police Federation has said that officers in London lack the resources to check that arriving travellers are where they say they are.

“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.”

It is thought this will not include international transit passengers who are using large ports such as Heathrow and Manchester to connect to other destinations.

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