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.

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 21 September 2021.

Travel Corridors

Travel corridors were originally introduced in July 2020 but were suspended at 4am on 18 January 2021.

Traffic Light System

Travel corridors were introduced in July 2020 but were suspended on 18 January 2021 and were replaced by a traffic light system. The first review of the list of Countries on the traffic light system was on Friday 7 May and further reviews followed 2 and 23 June, 14 July 2021, 4 and 26 August 2021. The next review was announced on Friday 17 September 2021 which removed the Green and Amber lists from the system. Formal reviews of the Red List will continue to take place every three weeks but Countries can still be moved to the Red List in-between the formal reviews and at short notice.

Traffic Light System Rules From 4 October 2021

From 4am on Monday 4 October 2021, the rules for international travel to England will change from the Red, Amber and Green Traffic Light System to a single Red List of countries and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules for travel from countries and territories not on the red list will depend on the individuals vaccination status.

Travel From The Rest Of The World For Fully Vaccinated Passengers
From 4am Monday 4 October, individuals who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days must:

  • book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in England
  • complete a passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before arrival in England
  • take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 after arrival in England

Passengers must be able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body that includes, as a minimum:

  • forename and surname(s)
  • date of birth
  • vaccine brand and manufacturer
  • date of vaccination for every dose
  • country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer

Passengers who are unable to provide the required information must follow the non-vaccinated rules.

Travel From The Rest Of The World For Passengers Who Are Not Fully Vaccinated
From 4am Monday 4 October, individuals who:

  • do not qualify under the fully vaccinated rules,
  • are partially vaccinated, or
  • are not vaccinated,

Before travelling to England must:

  • take a pre-departure COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 3 days before travelling to England
  • book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 tests – to be taken after arrival in England
  • complete a passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before arrival in England

After arrival in England must:

  • quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days
  • take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8

Travellers may be able to end quarantine early if they pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.

Travel From Red List Countries

From 4am Monday 4 October, all passengers, regardless of vaccination status, who have been in a country or territory on the red list in the last 10 days, will only be allowed to enter the UK if they are a British or Irish national or have residence rights in the UK.

Before travelling to England, they must:

  • take a pre-departure COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 3 days before travelling to England
  • book a quarantine hotel package, including day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 tests
  • complete a passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before arrival in England

When arriving in England, the passenger must quarantine in a managed hotel and take 2 COVID-19 tests.

Red List Countries

From Monday 11 October 2021 the following are on the Red List:

  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venezuela

Red Watch List

The following Countries and Territories will move off the red list at 4am Monday 11 October 2021:

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • French Guiana
  • Georgia
  • Guyana
  • Indonesia
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mayotte
  • Mexico
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Reunion
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

TOP TIP

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.

Passenger Locator Forms

Unless they benefit from an exemption, 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.

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 their hotel from a choice provided by the Government before they begin their journey to England. 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 fee. A positive test will mean the period of quarantine is extended by a further 10-day period, or until the traveler 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.

Hotel Quarantine Costs

Rate for bookings made on or before 11 August 2021 Rate for bookings made on or after 4am on 12 August 2021
Rate for 1 adult in 1 room for 10 days (11 nights) £1,750 £2,285
Additional rate for 1 adult (or child over 11) £650 £1,430
Additional rate for a child aged 5 to 11 £325 £325

Those facing significant financial hardship as a result of the charge, will be able to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking. Applicants who provide false information, or omit key information that has been asked for in the application, will be committing fraud and may be prosecuted.

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 a Red List Country will be required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

Statutory Sick Pay

UK workers are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay if they are isolating in a quarantine hotel after returning from a Red List Country. 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:

  1. Work From The Hotel
    Depending on the type of work they do they may be able to work from the hotel for the period of quarantine.

  2. Extended Holiday
    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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-isolation 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.

Unauthorised Leave

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 advise a cautionary approach when deciding whether to discipline them for unauthorised absence.

Ending The Period Of Quarantine

Any traveller arriving in the UK who is required to self-isolate 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.

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 the Country they are travelling to is re-categorised while they are away. If the Country is re-categorised before the date of travel you could cancel the period of holiday, to do this you would need to provide the same number of days’ notice as the length of the holiday. You will also need to establish whether an employee travelling to a non-red list country meets the fully vaccinated requirements, as if they don’t they will need to self-isolate at home.

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.

Disciplinary Action
If an employee chooses to go ahead with a foreign holiday, having previously been told not to by you because you cannot accommodate 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.

TOP TIPS

My recommendation is to contact all employees, whether they have holidays booked or not, to notify them that employees returning to England from a Country on the red list will be force to quarantine for 10 days at a hotel at their expense and those returning from other Countries who are not double jabbed will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days.

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’, ‘if you travelling abroad and the Country switches to the Red List while you are away how do you intend to deal with the period of self-isolation’ and ‘if you do not meet the fully vaccinated requirements how do you intend to deal with the period of self-isolation’ type questions to your holiday form. These questions are reasonable as you have a legitimate interest in ensuring you can keep your business running smoothly by establishing whether employees will be available for work on their return from holiday and ensuring other employees are not put at risk by an employee coming into work when they should be quarantining. Furthermore, you could be committing a criminal offence if you allow an employee attend work when they should be quarantining. 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.

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.

Make it clear that if you discover an employee has misled you and put colleagues and customers in danger by travelling abroad without permission, by failing to quarantine on their return or by telling you they don’t need to quarantine because they are double jabbed they will face disciplinary action.

Template Letter Confirming A Requirement To Self-isolate Following a Holiday Abroad

My Template is designed for you to use to respond to an employee who has requested a period of holiday and is travelling to a country that is on the Red List or is not fully vaccinated and they would need to self-isolate on their return.

You can send the letter to the employee when they submit their holiday request or at the point a Country moves to the Amber or Red List.

To download the Template Letter Confirming A Requirement To Self-isolate Following a Holiday Abroad complete your details below and an email containing the document will find it’s way to your inbox:

Download the Template Letter Confirming A Requirement To Self-isolate Following a Holiday Abroad Now!

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