Coronavirus and UK Travel Quarantine Rules

UK Travel Quarantine Rules were first introduced in early June 2020. Whilst the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against non-essential international travel, the Government published a list of countries who were exempt from the quarantine rules.

The UK travel quarantine rules mean that anyone arriving in the UK, whether a UK resident or visitor to the UK, who has visited or made a transit stop in a country or territory that is not exempt from the quarantine rules, must self-isolate for 14 days. This applies to all travel including train, ferry, coach, air or any other route.

UPDATES

Updated guidance is released regularly and I will update this page as more details are announced.

This page was firstly published on 26 July 2020 and the last update was 14 August 2020.

Countries and Territories Moved From The Quarantine Exemption List

The list of countries who were exempt from the quarantine rules is under constant review and is subject to change at short notice, I therefore strongly recommend when you have employees who are intending to travel abroad you have a conversation with them before they leave to establish where they are travelling to and what there intentions are should there be a change to the rules that apply to that country or countries while they are away.

Date Moved Off The Exemption List The Country Moved Latest Update
15 August 2020 Aruba, France, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands and Turks and Caicos Islands
These countries and territories will be removed from the travel corridor list at 4am, Saturday 15 August 2020:

Anyone arriving in England from these countries or territories after 4am on Saturday 15 August will need to self-isolate.

14 August 2020

No change

8 August 2020 Andorra, The Bahamas and Belgium
These countries and territories were removed from the travel corridor list at 4am, Saturday 8 August 2020:

Anyone who arrived in England from these countries or territories after 4am on Saturday 8 August will need to self-isolate.

14 August 2020

No change

31 July 2020 Luxembourg
Luxembourg was removed from the travel corridor list at midnight on 30 July 2020:

Anyone arriving in England from Luxembourg at 00:01am on Friday 31 July will need to self-isolate.

14 August 2020

No change

26 July 2020 Spain including the mainland, Balearic and Canary Islands
On Saturday 25 July the UK Government decided to remove Spain from the list of exempt countries, this means anyone who arrives in the UK on a flight from mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands or Canary Islands, on or after Sunday 26 July 2020 will have to self isolate for 14 days.

The guidance from the Foreign Office is that non essential travel to mainland Spain, the Balearics and Canaries should be avoided.

14 August 2020

No change

What Are The UK Travel Quarantine Rules?

Unless they benefit from an exemption (see below), a traveller entering the UK must complete a passenger locator form (which provides details of the countries they have visited, where they will be staying and how they can be contacted during the period of quarantine). Where a passenger fails to provide an address the Government will arrange accomodation at the travellers expense and they could also be fined £100 for failing to provide an address.

Official guidance confirms that they must travel directly to the place at which they will self-isolate, avoiding the use of public transport unless there is no other option. Once at their destination, they should only have contact with those who have travelled with them. They must not go to work, school, or public areas, or have visitors except for essential support such as walking a dog or fetching shopping. They should remain in quarantine at the address they have provided for 14-days.

The 14 day quarantine period starts on the day of arrival in England and ends at midnight on the 14th day after arrival.

One in five passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules. Those in England could be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to self-isolate.

There is no date for when the quarantine policy will end but I will update this page accordingly.

People returning from overseas will not be automatically eligible for statutory sick pay during the period of quarantine, unless they meet the required conditions – for example displaying coronavirus symptoms.

Transit Stops
A transit stop is when a passenger vehicle such as a coach, ferry, aircraft or train makes a stop on the way to its final destination.

Where an employee has experienced a transit stop in a country not on the quarantine exemption list they will need to self-isolate when they arrive in England if:

  • new passengers get on the vehicle
  • any passengers get off the vehicle and mix with other people, then get on again

Private Vehicles
Anyone who travels through a country or territory not on the quarantine exemption list but does not stop in the country will not be required to quarantine on return to the UK.

Anyone who does make a stop would need to self-isolate if:

  • new people get into the vehicle, or
  • someone gets out of the vehicle, mixes with other people and gets back into the vehicle.

If no no new people get into the vehicle, or people from the vehicle avoid mixing with other people who are not travelling in the vehicle they will not be required to self isolate.

Which Workers Are Exempt From Quarantine?

There are a number of people who are exempt, regardless of their country of origin, including:

  • Road haulage and freight workers
  • Seasonal agricultural workers if they self-isolate where they are working
  • UK residents who ordinarily travel overseas at least once a week for work

UPDATE 30 JULY 2020
Medical and care professionals arriving in the UK on or after 31 July 2020 and arriving from an exempt country such as Spain will be required to self-isolate for 14 days inline with the general public. The change in policy will minimise the risk of onward chains of transmission that could affect the wider workforce in the NHS and social care system, as signs of second waves begin to show in other countries.

The exemption for healthcare workers was originally put in place at the beginning of June and meant registered medical and care professionals did not have to self-isolate when travelling to England from overseas. The aim was to help ensure medical and care workers travelling back from overseas could immediately return to providing essential healthcare and saving lives.

After self-isolating for 14 days

If the employee does not have any coronavirus symptoms after 14 days, they can stop self-isolating.

If the employee has Coronavirus symptoms they should continue to self-isolate until their temperature returns to normal. Employees who do display symptoms would become eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.

TOP TIPS

To help you manage these matters I consider the options available to if you have employees who are currently in Spain as well as how you can deal with those employees who might be intending to travel to Spain in the near future.

How To Deal With Employees Who Are Currently In A Country The Has Been Removed From The Quarantine Exemption List

People currently on holiday are advised to follow the local rules, return home as normal, and check the Foreign Office’s travel advice website for further information.

Every individual who arrives in the UK from a country or territory who is not on the quarantine exemption list will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone who arrives in the UK from an exampt Country such as Germany but has also visited a non-exempt Country such as France or Spain in the preceding 14 days will also be required to self isolate for up to 14 days.

For example
Anyone arriving in the UK from a country that is exempt from quarantine rules but has travelled through a non exempt country 4 days before arriving in the UK will need to self-isolate for 10 days.

An employee who has Coronavirus symptoms or a member of their household is self-isolating with symptoms would become eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, but a non symptomatic employee who is self isolating simply because they have returned to the UK from a non-exempt country would not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay. So if you have non symptomatic employees who are self isolating here are 3 alternative options to SSP that you can consider:

  1. Work From Home
    Depending on the type of job they carry then they may be able to work from home for the period of isolation. An employee who fails to self isolate for 14 days can be fined £1,000, therefore if you tried to persuade an employoee to physically attend work during the 14 day period as that would amount to encouraging the employee to commit a criminal offence and subject them to a fine, which you may end up paying.

  2. Extended Holiday
    If working from home is not an option then you could ask the employee to extend their holiday request to cover the period of self-isolation. You are not obliged to grant additional holiday and the employee may not have sufficient days remaining or they may be concerned about not having sufficient days for the remainder of the leave year.

  3. Unpaid Leave
    If they do not have enough holiday entitlement to cover the original holiday plus the period of isolation you would be entitled to record the period as unpaid leave.

If you are unable to reach agreement with your employee you might consider recording the absence as unauthorised. However, because breach of self-isolation amounts to a criminal offence, I would advice a cautionary approach when deciding whether to discipline them for unauthorised absence.

If your employee has taken holiday during a period of ongoing furlough they would be eligible to return to furlough for the period of quarantine.

How To Deal With Employees Who Are Due To Travel To A Country The Has Recently Been Removed From The Quarantine Exemption List

The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to any Country or Territory who is not on the Quarantine Exemption List.

This means you may have employees who were due to travel in the next day or so who have had their flights cancelled or the tour operator may still be intending to travel.

Employee Who Intends To Go Ahead With A Pre-booked Holiday
You will need to have a conversation with them before they travel to agree how the period of quarantine will be dealt with i.e. working from home, extended holiday or unpaid leave (see the suggestions above).

If you require the employee to take holiday to cover the period of quarantine you must provide the employee with notice equivalent to at least twice the period of leave to be taken. For example, the employer must give two days’ notice to take one day’s leave, or two weeks’ notice to take one week’s leave. If you have the conversation with them before they travel you should therefore be able to satisfy the notice period time limits if you are unable to reach agreement and resort to enforcing the employee to take holiday.

Employees Flights Have Been Cancelled
The employee may decide to take the holiday as planned and opt for a staycation instead, in which case you don’t need to do anything.

Some employees may decide they would prefer to return to work and take the holiday at another time. Whether you approve their return will depend on your circumstances, such as have you redistributed their work.

How To Cancel An Employee’s Booked Period Of Holiday
If the employee is not able to work from home and they do not have enough holiday entitlement to cover the period of quarantine or your business is unable to accomodate the extended period of absence you would be entitled to cancel the period of pre-booked holiday.

To cancel a previously approved period of holiday you must provide the employee with the required period of notice. The minimum period of notice is at least the same length as the period of holiday to be cancelled.

For example
If the employee has booked a period of five days’ holiday you must give at least five days’ notice of cancellation.

Its important that you have a clear business reason for cancelling the period of holiday, without one the employee may be able to argue that the cancellation is a breach of the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence, entitling them to resign and claim constructive dismissal.

In normal circumstances this is a rare occurance and many employers who find themselves in this situation compensate the employee for the inconvenience i.e. by reimbursing the cost of the holiday and associated expenses. However in these uncertain times and depending how many employees are affected this might not be financially possible for your business.

If you are considering cancelling an employee’s pre-booked period of holiday you should ensure you have considered all alternative options to ensure that the needs of the business are met.

TOP TIP

My recommendation is to contact all employees, whether they have holidays booked or not, to notify them that another set of countries have been removed from the exempt list and notify them what options are available to them on their return to the UK if they are intending to travel to any of these countries such as working from home, taking extended holiday or taking unpaid leave.

You may also wish to add that the situation is under constant review by the Government and those intending to travel to other countries may find themselves in a similar situation without any notice. You should also mention that you may not be able to accomodate an extended period of holiday or unpaid leave so if they have holiday booked for a country which has been removed from the quarantine exemption list they should notify you urgently so you can discuss the options available to them and agree a way forward.

It may be worth adding a ‘if you are travelling abroad would you mind letting us know where you are going’ and ‘if the country you are travelling to is removed from the quarantine exempt list whilst you are away how do you intend to deal with the period of self isolation’ type questions to your holiday form. Then if, or when, other countries are removed from the quarantine exempt list you can quickly and easily identify if any of your employees are affected and the options they would prefer to consider – then if they are able to work from home you can ensure work is delivered or available for them at home when they return.

What’s Next?

The Government are constantly reviewing the Countries on the exemption list and I will review the content of this page as the situation improves or as other countries are removed from the quarantine exemption list.

If you have any questions please call me on 0114 360 0626 or simply email me at enquiries@kea-hr.co.uk.

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Coronavirus and UK Travel Quarantine Rules