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This article was first published on August 6 and has since been updated with the latest guidelines released by the UK. Updated 6 April 2021, as of which the UK is gradually coming out of the lockdown.

Following the suspension of the UK travel corridor list, the UK government has gone ahead and issued a red list of countries that are banned from entering the country. 

Given the recent development, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on travelling to the UK, which covers the rules of arrivals and quarantine along with its laws and enforcement as follows.

Travel bans to the UK

Travellers who have been in or through any of the countries listed below in the last 10 days, will be refused entry to the UK. This list of countries is sometimes referred to as the ‘red list’.

British and Irish Nationals or third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK will be able to enter the UK. They must self-isolate for 10 days on arrival in a managed quarantine hotel. 

  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh (will be added to the list from 9 April)
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ecuador
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Kenya (will be added to the list from 9 April)
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Oman
  • Pakistan (will be added to the list from 9 April)
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines (will be added to the list 4am Friday 9 April)
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

 

UK quarantine rules

Nations making up the UK, (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) generally share the same policy regarding upon arrival self-quarantine or self-isolation. Returning residents or foreign travelers arriving in the UK will be subjected to a mandatory 10-day period of self-isolation in the place you’re staying unless they are arriving from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Travellers will also need to bring a completed passenger locator form and proof of a negative coronavirus test.

Those required to self-isolate

Whether returning citizens or foreign nationals, travelers arriving from non-exempted countries are required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.

The only difference is that those returning citizens coming from red-listed countries will have to self-isolate in managed quarantine hotels while others can quarantine at home.

Furthermore, travelers departing from exempted countries will still need to self-isolate in quarantine hotels should they visit or make transit stops in a country or territory on the red list in the 10 days prior to their UK arrival. This applies to all entries to the UK, whether by air, land or sea. 

Therefore it is imperative for UK-bound travelers to first check the list of exempt countries to learn whether or not their journey to the UK will involve transit stops and plan accordingly. 

Self-isolation venues and prohibitions

The venue for self-isolation can be at the following:

  • places of residence (travelers’ own home or that of a friend or family)
  • hotels or other temporary accommodation

Please note that during the length of the quarantine, travelers are not permitted to leave the premises for work, school and other public areas. Shopping for essentials or picking up medication is also prohibited, and travelers would need to enlist the help of friends or families or have the items delivered to them. NHS Volunteer Responders are also available to assist with shopping and medication collection. 

Travelers are also prohibited from receiving any sort of visitations from either family or friends. Exceptions can be made if said visitors are providing emergency assistance, medical assistance, veterinary services and certain critical public services.

Except under very limited circumstances, travelers are not allowed to change their place of self-isolation. 

After the 10-day period has elapsed, travelers may end their self-isolation and will be encouraged to follow the government guidelines on staying alert and working safely.

Penalties for non-compliance

All travelers must fill out the passenger locator form. You cannot submit this form until 48 hours before arriving in the UK. By providing information about their journey and contact details along with their self-isolation address, the government will be able to ensure that those required to self-isolate upon arrival can be properly monitored and verified. 

Non-compliance will result in a hefty fine. Should the information and details provided by a traveler prove to be inaccurate or misleading, said traveler may face a fine up to £3,200. Should a traveler chooses to not comply with self-isolation, they may face a fine of £1,000.

 

UK Lockdown

The UK is currently under tighter restrictions in place from 5 January, owing to a rapidly rising level of infection possibly due to a new COVID mutation. 

England

In line with PM Boris Johnson’s roadmap, the second part of the first step of unlocking kicked off in England on 30 March. The stringent restrictions imposed before have now been eased and the following guidelines are now in place.

  • Wearing masks and maintaining 2-metre distance remain sacrosanct.
  • Although socialising indoors is still not allowed, friends and family can meet outdoors in groups of not more than 6 people.

 

People are encouraged to work from home, but those engaged in occupations such as the following can go to their workplaces-

  • critical national infrastructure
  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • childcare or education
  • essential public services
  • essential retail, such as supermarkets and pharmacies

Employees will be permitted to gather in larger groups or meet indoors where it is necessary for their work.
Those who work in other people’s homes, like nannies, cleaners, tradesperson, and social care worker providing support to children and families, can continue doing so.

School pupils and students in further education should attend school and college. 
Students in university and other higher education settings undertaking practical and practice-based courses who require specialist equipment and facilities can attend in-person teaching and learning where reasonably necessary. All other students should continue learning remotely.

The following public venues are now open:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public and botanical gardens
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • outdoor sculpture parks
  • allotments
  • public playgrounds
  • outdoor sports venues and facilities

Outdoor sport and leisure facilities may open. Indoor gyms and other sports facilities, including changing rooms, will remain closed.

Funerals can be attended by up to 30 people, while funeral-linked events, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies, religious services, and volunteering and charitable events are limited to 6 attendees. 

Penalties for non-compliance start at £200 for the first offence, but can escalate up to £10,000 in case of an illegal gathering of over 30 people.

These rules will change from 12 April.

 

Wales

Wales is now under alert level 4, which means tighter restrictions are in place. Generally speaking, residents must comply with the following:

  • You must stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  • Only upto four people from different households can meet, and that too, in outdoor setting only. Socialising indoors in strictly prohibited.
  • Wedding and civil partnership receptions and wakes are not allowed
  • No travel without reasonable excuse

The following must close:

  • Entertainment venues
  • Visitor attractions
  • Sport, leisure and fitness facilities
  • Pubs, bars and cafes (except for takeaway and delivery)
  • Hairdressers and nail salons
  • Non-essential shops (click and collect allowed)

 

The country hopes to more to alert level three by 17 May.
Travel between Wales and the rest of the UK, as well as non-essential retail and close-contact services will most probably be allowed from 12 April.
Outdoor pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales are expected reopen on 26 April.

 

Scotland

Scotland has adopted a 5 Level protection strategy (levels 0 to 4) to arrest the spread of the virus. Depending on which level your area of residence falls into, the restrictions vary.

Mainland Scotland (and the isles of Skye, Arran, Bute, Gigha, Barra and Vatersay) have moved to enhanced level four. Other island communities remain in level three.

The Stay At Home has now been lifted, but the Stay Local guidelines remain in place. People are urged not to travel outside their local authority area for non-essential reasons.

Communal workship resumed from Friday 26 March in time for Passover, Easter, Ramadan and Vaisakhi. 
Hairdressers and barbers, car showrooms, forecourts, homeware stores, Click-and-Collects, and a wider range of retailers were also allowed to reopen by 5 April.

Most students are expected to go back to school by mid-April.

Outdoor pubs, bars, cafés, restaurants and bars, close contact services, indoor gyms and swimming pools, and driving lessons and tests will reopen later this month.

Non-essential journeys to other parts of the UK and the wider common travel area should also be permitted from 26 April.

 

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Stay At Home restrictions are still current. They will be reviewed on 15 April 2021.

Until 12 April, you may leave home only to:

  • to obtain goods or services from any business permitted to open
  • to exercise, as permitted in the regulations
  • to visit your bubble
  • to visit hospital, GP, medical appointments or health services (including mental health)
  • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance
  • to avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
  • to go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
  • to access education or childcare
  • to access critical public services (such as MOT or social care services)
  • to attend to the care, welfare and exercise of an animal
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • to donate blood
  • to attend a place of worship
  • to go to a wedding or civil partnership
  • to attend a funeral or visit a burial ground
  • to continue access and contact between parents and children who do not live in the same household
  • to facilitate a house move, and to do associated activities for that purpose, including viewing properties and making arrangements for removals

Gatherings of people outdoors in public parks and spaces are limited to 10 people from two households.

From 1 April, upto 10 people can exercise in groups and six people from two households can meet in private gardens. Golf and other outdoor sports have resumed. Garden centres are also now permitted to operate click-and-collect services.

On 12 April, the Stay At Home warning is expected to be relaxed to a Stay Local mesage.