Employment and Immigration Law Update - Quarantine rules announced

08 June 2020

The content in this article was updated to 8 June 2020 and is not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as constituting legal advice.

The Government has announced that from 8 June 2020, anyone arriving in the UK will be required to complete a quarantine period of 14 days. This will include people returning from holidays, business trips etc as well as new visa entrants.

The quarantine requirement will not apply to anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area (CTA), i.e. Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, who can show they have been in the CTA for the last 14 days.  If you have spent less than 14 days in the CTA, you will need to show when you arrived there and complete the balance of the quarantine period.

Why now?

Many are questioning why quarantine is being introduced at this time. The rationale seems to be that as the number of infections in the UK starts to come down to more manageable levels, there will come a point when our rate is below that “outside” and so it becomes worth trying to prevent any spread resulting from new arrivals.

As other countries also reduce their infection rates the Government will consider implementing “air-bridges” to exempt them from the requirement.

It is worth noting that implementing quarantine is less drastic then refusing entry altogether, which is the approach many other countries have taken. The Government has committed to reviewing the arrangements every three weeks.

Who will be affected?

The Foreign Office is still advising against any international travel. For so long as that is the case, this should reduce the number of people going abroad on holiday/business and then having to quarantine upon return. 

However, as visa application centres outside the UK start to re-open and applications are processed, we will still see new arrivals who will need to quarantine before they can start work. Employers will need to factor this into any planned start date and should also ensure suitable accommodation arrangements are in place for employees on arrival.

Travel companies and those in the tourism sector are inevitably concerned about the likely impact on their businesses. They are calling for the plans to be revoked, but so far their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

France has announced a reciprocal arrangement so anyone arriving in France from the UK will also need to quarantine for 14 days.

How will it work?

On arrival you must complete a contact locator form and provide the address where you will be staying. Failure to complete the form with the require details is punishable with a £100 fixed penalty notice and entry to the UK may be refused if you are not a British national or UK resident. You will also be encouraged (but not required) to download the NHS COVID-19 app when it becomes available.

If you do not have a place where you can safely self-isolate, you will be given a choice of Government provided accommodation, which you will have to pay for.

You will then be required to go straight to the place where you will self-isolate for 14 days. Your family or friends can collect you. You should try to avoid using public transport and if you have no other option you must cover your nose and mouth and maintain social distancing.

Once you arrive you must not leave your accommodation at all for 14 days. The only exceptions are if:

  • you need urgent medical treatment
  • you need support from social services
  • you need food and medicine and cannot get them delivered or get a friend or family member to bring them
  • you’re going to the funeral of a close relative, or for other compassionate reasons
  • there’s an emergency, for example there’s a fire at the place you’re staying.

If you are staying with others, you must avoid contact and minimise time spent in shared areas.  You cannot have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential care.

Public health authorities will be asked to undertake spot checks, to ensure people are at the address they provided. Any breach will result in a fixed penalty notice of £1,000 and if necessary prosecution and an unlimited fine.

Are there any exemptions?

A detailed list of exemptions has been published. This includes road haulage workers and registered health care professionals travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare. It also includes frontier workers, who reside in the UK and usually go to another country at least once a week to work on an employed or self-employed basis.

There is also a special exemption for seasonal agricultural workers who have an offer of employment to work on a named farm. They can start work immediately but must self-isolate on the farm and can only mix with their fellow workers.

This article is from the May 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact Clare Hedges or another member of Birketts' Immigration Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at June 2020.


Clare Hedges

Senior Associate - Head of Immigration

+44 (0)1223 326605

+44 (0)7581 150137