The UK Department for Transport has issued a press release notifying the public of several ‘travel corridor’ revisions since lists were published last week. The update is meant to reflect the ever-changing epidemiological conditions around the world. Effective August 22nd at 04:00 British Summer Time, Portugal will be added to the exempt-from-quarantine list, while Croatia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Austria will be removed. Scotland has also made its own changes, removing Switzerland from the exemption list.
“Data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England has indicated a significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of coronavirus in all three destinations, leading to Ministers removing these destinations from the current list of Travel Corridors.”
While some countries don’t consider transit stops as ‘arrivals’ from a particular country, this is not the case for the UK. It is important to remember that even if you are coming from a country on the ‘exempt list’ but end up traveling through the airport of a non-exempt country, you’ll still need to self-isolate. “A ‘transit stop’ is a stop where passengers can get on or off a coach, ferry, train, or plane. Your ticket should say if a stop is a transit stop,” the UK government’s website notes.
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Self-isolation for arrivals from Croatia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Austria
In light of a “significant increase in confirmed cases,” the UK Government has removed Croatia, Trinidad and Tobago and Austria from the quarantine-exemption list. Thus, travelers arriving from these countries after 04:00 on Saturday, August 22nd, will need to self-isolate for two weeks.
Here is the data supporting the government’s decision to remove the exempt status of the countries:
- The weekly incidence (cases) per 100,000 for Croatia has increased from 10.4 on August 12th to 27.4 on August 19th (164% increase).
- There has been a consistent increase in the weekly incidence rate of COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago over the past four weeks, with a 232% increase in weekly incidence (cases) per 100,000 between 12th and 19th August.
- In Austria, the weekly incidence (cases) per 100,000 of the population has increased from 10.5 on August 13th to 20.3 on August 20th (93% increase).
Arrivals from Portugal to be exempt from quarantine
Meanwhile, “Portugal has been added to the Government’s Travel Corridor list following a decrease in confirmed cases of coronavirus,” the Department for Transport said. This means that arrivals will not need to self-isolate so long as they haven’t been in or transited through any other non-exempt countries in the 14 days preceding their arrival.
Lists vary by UK country
Just as the NHS and other government services are administered differently in each country of the UK, there are variations in the quarantine-exempt and non-exempt lists depending on whether your destination is in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
This latest update appears to apply to England primarily. However, Scotland’s latest update echoes these changes. Interestingly, and importantly, Scotland has also removed an additional country from the exemption list. Arrivals or transfers from Switzerland must self-isolate for 14 days if arriving in Scotland.
At this time, the exemption lists for Wales and Northern Ireland have not been changed to follow England’s lead. This means Portugal remains off the exemption list while Austria, Croatia, and Trinidad and Tobago remain on it.
It unclear at this time whether the website changes for Wales and Northern Ireland are pending, or if the lists will stay as-is.
All lists subject to change
As we mentioned before, conditions remain incredibly fluid. As a result, this information is subject to change and may not accurately reflect the situation depending on the time of reading.
Below are links to the official government pages which list exempt countries and their effective dates.
- England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors
- Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-health-checks-at-borders/pages/exemptions/
- Wales: https://gov.wales/exemptions-self-isolation-coronavirus-covid-19-html
- Northern Ireland: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-countries-and-territories-exemptions
Barring a drastic and astronomical spike overseas prompting an immediate change in policy, it’s possible that health authorities may adjust their lists on a weekly basis – however, this is not confirmed.
Let us know if your travel plans will need to be changed as a result of this update by leaving a comment!