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5 things you need to know about travel to England during Covid-19

Planning pandemic travel is difficult: individual countries have their own requirements, and these are always subject to change. Below we look at the top 5 things to know about travel to England as social contact restrictions start to relax. These tips apply to England only, there are separate rules for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

1. Not everyone is barred from entering

The subject of some controversy, the UK has never closed its borders because of the pandemic. Travel is not suspended in general, and someone travelling from a country which is not designated high risk (see below) may enter England for any purpose, providing they will comply with restrictions on arrival.

2. Everyone needs to take steps before travel and after arrival

Prior to travel and within 48 hours of arrival in England, individuals must complete a passenger locator form. It is also essential to take a coronavirus test in the 72 hours before travel. Proof of the negative test results will be needed at check in, and individuals may also be requested to show them again upon arrival.

Once the passenger has been admitted, further pre-booked testing is required on day 2 and day 8 following arrival, along with a period of quarantine. Where the person must quarantine is dependent on where they have been in the 10 days prior to travel to England.

Where the individual is travelling from a country not designated as high risk (see below), they may quarantine at the address at which they intend to stay, and must do so for 10 days. Where the individual has travelled from one of the high-risk red list countries, they will need to quarantine at a designated quarantine hotel for 10 days. This must be booked in advance of travel.

The Test to Release scheme operates to shorten the period of quarantine for some travellers. Under the scheme an individual may pay for a private COVID-19 test to be taken not less than full 5 days after arrival in England. If the result is negative, quarantine may end there, earlier than the 10 days normally required. This is not an option for those who have travelled through red list countries.

3. Some countries have stricter measures than others – The red list countries

Where the traveller has been present in a red list country in the 10 days prior to travel, there are additional restrictions which apply. The red list can be updated at any time, and travellers are advised to ensure they are confident of the status of any country relevant to them.

Casual travellers (such as those coming to the UK for a short visit) from a red list country are not permitted to enter at all. For those who may enter (see below), the biggest additional restriction is that they must quarantine at a designated quarantine hotel for a full 10 days.

4. There are exemptions for those with permission to live in the UK

Travel from a red list country does not prevent entry where the traveller is British or an Irish national or has residence rights in the UK (such a visa permitting the individual to live here for an extended period). Where arrivals from a red list country are permitted, hotel quarantine will be essential (even for British nationals), along with usual testing requirements and the passenger locator form. The Test to Release scheme is
not applicable where the traveller has been in a relevant red list country.

5. There are additional exemptions relating to employment

There are some jobs which exempt a traveller from restrictions. Examples include aircraft pilots and crew, drivers of goods vehicles, and seasonal agricultural workers. The exemptions are not the same for all jobs and are subject to change. Travellers usually still need to complete passenger locator forms and COVID-19 tests before travel but may not need to undergo further testing in the UK and/or quarantine, even if travelling from a red list country.

All restrictions and exemptions are subject to change, often with limited warning. Travellers are advised to check the requirements regularly before travel, and to ensure that they comply with restrictions on arrival. If they do not, they face refusal of entry or fines.

You can view our coronavirus FAQs here and contact our experts on 0161 234 6800.