Travel corridors, travel bans and quarantine
25 January 2021
With lockdown continuing amid fears of new, highly transmittable COVID variants, the Government has sought to strengthen the UK’s borders. Therefore, from 18 January 2021 all arrivals must provide a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure to be able to travel to the UK.
Furthermore from 4:00am on 18 January 2021 all travel corridors for arrivals into England from anywhere outside the Common Travel Area have been suspended. All passengers arriving in the UK from abroad will now have to self-isolate for a period of 10 days. This applies to UK residents as well as visitors to the UK. Early release from quarantine may be possible for those prepared to take a second COVID-19 test with a private test provider after five days.
The list of jobs that qualify for an exemption to quarantine requirements has also been reduced. From 4:00am on 18 January 2021, exemptions no longer apply to journalists, performing arts professionals, business directors bringing jobs and investment to the UK, or those working in advertising productions, television, high end television or film, or on the National Lottery. Individuals in these roles will now need to meet the usual quarantine requirements.
The UK Government has also declared that anyone who has been in, or transited through, certain countries within the last 10 days will not be granted access to the UK. Countries affected by the travel ban are; Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
There is however an exemption for hauliers who have departed from or transited through Portugal in the last 10 days.
The travel ban does not apply to UK or Irish nationals or UK residents, but they will be required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival along with their household. Early release is not possible for those travelling from a country on the banned travel list. The usual exemptions for people filling certain roles also do not apply in these cases.
The FCO travel advice confirms that “people with residence rights” includes: holders of Indefinite Leave to Remain; holders of existing leave to enter or remain (i.e those with biometric residence permits) or an entry clearance/visa that grants such leave e.g. students, workers, etc (excluding visit visas); holders of EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) leave; those who have rights of entry under the Withdrawal Agreement (including returning residents with a right of residence under the EEA Regulations and EEA frontier workers); family members of EEA nationals with rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
There is still a practical difficulty though for those who are permitted to enter the UK. Direct flights from the affected countries have been stopped, so travel will need to be via a third country.
There have been rumours that the Government is considering further border closures and/or changes to strengthen quarantine requirements. In particular one idea reportedly being considered is requiring new arrivals to quarantine in dedicated ‘quarantine hotels’, rather than at home. We expect an announcement later today, shortly after publication of this update. Please check our website for any ‘stop press’.
These articles are from the January 2021 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 a 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 January 2021.