Coronavirus and UK Travel Quarantine Rules
UK Travel Quarantine Rules were first introduced in early June 2020. The UK travel quarantine rules mean that anyone arriving in England from anywhere outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, whether a UK resident or visitor to the UK, must self-isolate for 10 days. This applies to all travel including train, ferry, coach, air or any other route.
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 12 May 2021.
Travel corridors were originally introduced in July 2020 but were suspended at 4am on 18 January 2021.
Traffic Light System
The travel corridors have been replaced by a traffic light system. The list of Countries will be reviewed every three weeks, the first review was on Friday 7 May and the second is expected to be on or around 28 May 2021. Even though a formal review will take place every three weeks Countries can be moved from one list to another inbetween the formal reviews and at short notice.
The new Traffice Light System is as follows:
Green List Countries
Destinations on the “green list” will have high vaccination rates and low case numbers, as well as low instances of variants of concern.
As at 8 May 2021 Ireland is the only Country on the Green list. People arriving in England from Ireland, unless they have travelled through an amber or red list Country in the preceeding 10 days do not need to self isolate after arrival.
12 Countries will join Ireland on the Green List at 4am on Monday 17 May 2021 – see the Amber Watch List information below. Some of these new green list destinations are not currently open to UK tourists and it is travellers’ responsibility to check.
Amber List Countries
Any Country that does not appear on the Red or Green Lists is on the Amber list.
UK Nationals should not be travelling to Amber List Countries for leisure.
Anyone arriving in the UK from a Country on the Amber list must self-isolate for 10 days in the place they’re staying (Home Quarantine) and take a COVID-19 test on day 2 and day 8. They will be eligible for the Test to Release scheme.
Amber Watch List
The following Countries and Territories will move from the amber list to the green list at 4am on Monday 17 May 2021.
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Israel and Jerusalem
- New Zealand
- Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)
- South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
- St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Red List Countries
From Monday 15 February 2021 UK nationals who arrive in England having been in or through any of the countries on the Red List in the previous 10 days, will be required to participate in the Hotel Quarantine Rules. This list of countries is referred to as the ‘red list’.
Nationals from any of the Red List Countries are not allowed entry to the UK. UK Nationals should not be travelling to Red List Countries for leisure.
As at 4am on Wednesday 12 May 2021 there are 43 Countries on the red list:
Red Watch List
The following Countries and Territories moved from the amber list to the red list at 4am on Wednesday 12 May 2021.
- Nepal, and
Anyone arriving in the UK from the Maldives, Nepal or Turkey before 4am Wednesday 12 May 2021, must self-isolate for 10 days in the place they’re staying (Home Quarantine) and take a COVID-19 test on day 2 and day 8. They will continue to be eligible for the Test to Release scheme.
Anyone arriving in the UK from the Maldives, Nepal and Turkey after 4am Wednesday 12 May 2021, must pre-book and stay in a quarantine hotel for the 10 day quarantine period and take a COVID-19 test on day 2 and day 8. The Test to Release Scheme does not apply in these circumstances.
I strongly recommend when you have employees who are intending to travel abroad, whether for work or pleasure, you have a conversation with them before they leave to establish where they are travelling to and what their intentions are for managing the period of quarantine and how that might differ should things change while they are away and they be required to participate in the hotel quarantine rules.
What Are The UK Travel Quarantine Rules?
Coronavirus Testing Before Traveling To The UK
Travellers must have proof of a negative coronavirus test to enter England. The test must have been taken within 72 hours of travel and must be shown to the carrier in order for travel to be allowed.
Check Coronavirus Testing Before Travelling To England for the latest rules that apply. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are introducing their own but similar rules.
Travellers from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey, Ascension, Falkland Islands and St Helena do not need a negative coronavirus test result
Travel Test Package
All travellers must before commencing their journey to England book and pay for a travel test package, which will include COVID-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and and then on or after day 8 of the period of quarantine.
Travellers from somewhere in the Common Travel Area who have not left the Common Travel Area for the preceeding 10 days, do not need a negative test to enter England or to quarantine at home and take tests on day two and eight after arrival. The Common Travel Area is an open border area comprising the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. The British Overseas Territories are not included.
Passenger Locator Forms
Unless they benefit from an exemption (see below), all travellers 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).
Travellers arriving from a Country on the red list, or having passed through a Country on the red list within the previous 10 days, will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years if they are found to have provided false information on the passenger locator form.
All international travellers must self isolate for 10 days on arrival in England.
Home Quarantine (applies to Amber List Countries)
All travellers who arrive from a Country which is not on the Red List must quarantine at home for a period of 10 days, regardless of the pre-departure test result.
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 10 days. The 10 day quarantine period starts on the day of arrival in England and ends at midnight on the 10th day after arrival.
They must participate in the mandatory testing programme, which involves taking a non NHS Coronavirus Test at their own expense on days 2 and 8 of the period of quarantine. If the tests provide a positive result the traveller must continue to quarantine for 10 days from the date of the positive test result.
Test To Release Scheme
The period of quarantine can be shortened if the traveller pays for a Coronavirus test after quarantining for at least 5 days. This is know as the Test to Release Scheme. If the test returns a negative result the traveller can end the period of quarantine. They still have to comply with the mandatory Day 8 Test though, so if that returns a positive result they could be forced to return to quarantine for a period of 10 days from the date of the positive result.
Home Quarantine Compliance Checks
Staff employed on behalf of the NHS Test and Trace service will visit the address listed on the passenger locator form. The will ask a few questions to establish whether the self isolation rules are been followed, they will also ask to see a driver’s license or passport to confirm the identities of those who should be self isolating.
If there is reason to believe an individual or group of individuals may be breaching self-isolation rules, the case may be referred to the police. If the police have reasonable grounds to believe that a person is in breach of their duty to self-isolate, they may issue a fine (fixed penalty notice). Fines start at £1,000 for a first offence and can increase up to £10,000 for repeat offences.
Hotel Quarantine (applies to Red List Countries)
Travellers arriving from a Country on the red list, or having passed through a Country on the red list within the previous 10 days, will have to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for a minimum period of 10 days.
Carriers must ensure passengers have booked a quarantine hotel and signed up to the mandatory testing process before the journey to England commences.
Travellers will have to book there hotel from a choice provided by the Government before they begin there journey to England, that process is expected to go live on Thursday 11 February 2021. The cost for the initial period of 10 days will be £1,750 per person. The booking must be secured and paid for prior to commencing the journey back to England, carriers will not allow passengers to board their mode of transport without proof the booking has been made and paid for.
Travellers will be met at the airport and escorted to their chosen hotel, once checked in they will not be allowed to leave their room except for exercise which will be supervised.
The minimum period of quarantine is 10 days. Travellers will have to take a mandatory Coronavirus Test on the 2nd and 8th day of the quarantine period the cost of which is included in the £1,750 fee. A positive test will mean the period of quarantine is extended by a further 10 day period, or until the traveller tests negative. There is no indication whether a further charge will be made for the extended period of quarantine, but I’m guessing there will be.
Travellers arriving in England could be fined up to £10,000 if they flout the hotel quarantine rules.
The Test to Release Scheme is not available to anyone who has been in or travelled through any country that is on the Red List in the 10 days before arrival in England.
UK workers are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay if they are self isolating after returning from another Country for holiday or business reasons and they cannot work from home. They may become entitled to SSP if they begin to show Coronavirus symptoms. If you have non symptomatic employees who are self isolating because they have returned to the UK from a Country which is on the Amber or Red list there are 3 alternative options you can consider. See ‘How To Manage The Period of Quarantine‘ below.
Jobs Which Are Exempt From Quarantine
Some travellers are exempt from completing a passenger locator form or quarantining on arrival in the UK, because of the jobs they do. This is regardless of the country of origin.
The Government guidance lists the jobs that qualify for an exemption and confirms which exemptions apply along with any conditions they will need to meet or evidence they will need to show.
The list is long but includes Bus and Coach drivers and Drivers of Goods Vehicles.
Check Coronavirus Jobs That Qualify For Travel Exemptions for the latest rules that apply.
How To Manage The Period Of Quarantine
Every individual who arrives in the UK from Monday 15 February 2021 will be required to quarantine for 10 days. If they have arrived from a Country on the Red List the period of quarantine will be enforced in a hotel, travellers returning from a Country on the Amber List will be required to quarantine at home.
Statutory Sick Pay
UK workers are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay if they are self isolating after returning from another Country for holiday or business reasons and they cannot work from home. They may become entitled to SSP if they begin to show Coronavirus symptoms.
So if you have non symptomatic employees who are self isolating because they have returned to the UK from another Country there are 3 alternative options you can consider:
- Work From Home or Hotel
Depending on the type of work they do they may be able to work from their home or the hotel for the period of quarantine. An employee who fails to quarantine for 10 days and participate in the mandatory testing process can be fined £1,000, therefore if you tried to persuade an employoee to physically attend work during the 10 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.
- 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 quarantine. 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.
- Unpaid Leave
If they do not have enough holiday entitlement to cover the original holiday plus the period of quarantine you would be entitled to record the quarantine period as unpaid leave.
- Time Off In Lieu
If you operate a time off in lieu scheme and the employee has a positive amount of time you could agree to use the TOIL first and top up the remainder of period of self isoltion with unpaid leave or holiday. If you don’t operate a TOIL scheme you might introduce a temporary scheme that allows an employee to start with a deficit and then reduce the deficit to zero within a specific period of time.
If you are unable to reach agreement with your employee you might consider recording the absence as unauthorised. However, because breach of quarantine amounts to a criminal offence, I would advice a cautionary approach when deciding whether to discipline them for unauthorised absence.
Can An Employee Be Re-Furloughed Whilst Quarantining?
If your employee had taken holiday during a period of ongoing furlough they would simply return to furlough at the date the holiday was due to end and that would therefore continue throughout the period of quarantine.
If the employee had not been on furlough when the period of holiday started then the situation is a little more complex. The Treasury Direction issued on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme states “No CJRS claim may be made in respect of an employee if it is abusive or is otherwise contrary to the exceptional purpose of CJRS”. The CJRS guidance confirms that the purpose of the CJRS scheme is to assist employers who cannot maintain their workforce because their operations have been affected by coronavirus.
It is arguable whether the employee’s absence is caused by either the coronavirus pandemic, or their decision to take holiday leave abroad. The position is unclear and, pending government guidance, placing an employee on furlough carries with it the risk that a claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme may be unlawful. That said the ACAS published guidance does suggest that an employer can furlough an employee who is subject to quarantine.
Ending The Period Of Quarantine
All travellers arriving in the UK must participate in the mandatory testing programme, this involves taking a non NHS Coronavirus Test at their own expense on days 2 and 8 of the period of quarantine.
If the tests provide a positive result the traveller must continue to quarantine for 10 days from the date of the positive test result.
Those who are quarantining at home can shorten the period of quarantine if the traveller pays for a Coronavirus test after quarantining for at least 5 days. This is known as the Test to Release Scheme. If the Day 5 test returns a negative result the traveller can end the period of quarantine. They still have to comply with the mandatory Day 8 Test though, so if that returns a positive result they could be forced to return to quarantine for a period of 10 days from the date of the positive result. The Test to Release Scheme does not apply to individuals who are quarantining at a hotel because they have returned from or travelled through a Country on the red list.
If the traveller begins to display symptoms during the period of quarantine they should take a test and if that returns a positive result they should continue the period of quarantine for a further 10 day period starting with the date of the test. Employees who do display symptoms would become eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.
How To Manage Pre Booked Holidays
You will need to have conversations with all your employees to determine how they intend to manage the period of quarantine on their return to England, if they will be travelling abroad i.e. working from home, extended holiday or unpaid leave (see the suggestions above).
If you do not reach agreement with the employee and intend to enforce a period of 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, you would be required to give twenty days’ notice to take ten day’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.
Remember the period of quarantine is a minimum of 10 days, if they test positive the period will extend until the test negative.
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 accommodate 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 so for a holiday lasting 14 days you would need to provide 14 days notice of cancellation.
It’s 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 occurrence and 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.
If an employee chooses to go ahead with a foreign holiday, having previously been told not to by you because you can not accomodate the period of quarantine, you may consider disciplinary action.
Although the government has encouraged employers to act ‘sympathetically’ to employees’ subject to quarantine, that request is non-binding.
Disciplinary action would be most appropriate where the leave is treated as unauthorised, particularly where a company policy has been put in place regarding the treatment of quarantine.
Consideration should be given to whether the holiday was booked before the pandemic occurred; whether quarantine was imposed after travelling had commenced; or whether the employee travelled knowing that they would need to quarantine.
loyees ies are likely to move If an employee was overseas on holiday and can’t get home because their flight has been cancelled you can expect that they will try to identify other methods of getting back home, If for whatever reason, they cannont travel back, there are several other ways in which you can deal with this:
My recommendation is to contact all employees, whether they have holidays booked or not, to notify them that all employees are required to quarantine on return to England and that those returning from a Country on the red list will be force to quarantine at a hotel.
The options for those who are quarantining at home are more flexible as working from home is an option, however the opportunity to get work to and from an employee who is quarantining at a hotel will be more difficult.
The aim should be to reach agreement before travel commences on whether they will work from home, take extended holiday, take unpaid leave or be furloughed.
As with the previous travel corridors system the situation is under constant review by the Government and those intending to travel to countries not on the red list could find they move to it without much notice i.e. whilst they are away. The employee should keep up to date with the situation before they leave and whilst they are away and keep you informed if their situation changes so that you can manage their return.
It may be worth adding a ‘please tell us if you travelling abroad and if so which Country or Countries you will be travelling to’ and ‘if you travelling abroad how do you intend to deal with the period of self isolation’ type questions to your holiday form. Then if they are able to work from home you can ensure work is delivered or available for them at home when they return to England.
Finally, as employees go on holiday it would be advisable to remind them, in writing, what their responsibilities are and what your expectations are in terms of a return to work date, what they need to do if advice changes and how the time would be treated if they needed to self isolate. This then avoids any confusion on their return.
If you have any questions please call me on 0114 360 0626 or simply email me at email@example.com.
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