The UK’s New Quarantine Rules – Everything You Need To Know

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The UK’s quarantine rules come into force today and are set to impact thousands of travelers, not to mention airlines and businesses both in the UK and abroad. But how will the quarantine be implemented, and what do you need to know?

British Airways take-off
The UK’s quarantine begins today. Photo: Getty Images

Quarantine rules in the UK

The UK has begun its mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving people, whether they are UK residents or foreign nationals. Under the legislation, anyone arriving from anywhere other than Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, will have to enter 14-day isolation after they have arrived.

Quarantine applies not just to those arriving by air, but also by train or ferry. On arrival, they must provide details of where they will stay during quarantine. If they don’t have a planned address to stay at, the government has said it will arrange accommodation but has not elaborated on what this might be.

UK Quarantine Heathrow
Arrivals will be expected to self-isolate for 14 days. Photo: Getty Images

Once at the address, people are not allowed to leave apart from in a few very limited situations. They should ask someone else to do their food shopping for them and should not use public transport during the quarantine period. Those breaking the rules could be fined up to £1,000 ($1,269).

Exceptions to the rule include lorry drivers, freight workers, seasonal agriculture workers and medics arriving to fight COVID-19.

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UK quarantine questions answered

With such a quick implementation and significant impact on all travelers, there are clearly lots of questions being asked about how the new legislation will work. Here are some of the most frequently asked.

Can I travel to the UK via Ireland to avoid quarantine?

In a nutshell, no. The common travel area (CTA), which includes Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, has a quarantine free corridor with the UK. However, the government has closed down what was initially referred to as the ‘Dublin dodge,’ saying that you can only avoid quarantine by arriving from these locations if you’ve been in the CTA for at least 14 days.

coronavirus, IATA, aviation impact
The Dublin dodge loophole has been closed. Photo: Getty Images

Will people who live with me have to quarantine also?

If you arrive back to the UK and plan to quarantine in a shared home, your fellow residents do not need to enter quarantine. However, the advice is that you should minimize the time spent in shared areas like the kitchen or lounge. You should use separate towels and thoroughly clean communal areas after use.

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Can I get paid if I have to quarantine and can’t work from home?

If you have to isolate following a trip abroad and cannot do your job from home, you run the risk of not getting paid. You would not qualify for sick pay, so you would have to take the time either out of your annual leave or as unpaid leave.

Heathrow airport sign with Airplane
Arrivals are allowed to travel away from the airport. Photo: Getty Images

Does the quarantine period begin as soon as I arrive?

Strangely, no. Although you are supposed to stay isolated from arrival, the clock for your 14 days doesn’t begin until the next day, at 00:01, to be precise.

Can you travel from the airport to a place of quarantine?

Yes. The Independent’s travel guru Simon Calder shared this morning that you can, in fact, travel as far as you like from the airport, but should use a private car if possible. You should go directly (i.e., not via a beauty spot such as Barnard Castle) but are allowed to stay overnight on the way if necessary.

Will it work?

There are plenty of worries that the UK’s quarantine rules are too little, too late. Many think that the time has passed to restrict arrivals to the UK and that the measures will only punish travel firms and airlines, without having a significant impact on that all-important ‘R’ number.

Concerns have also been raised about the enforcement of quarantine. Police are allowed to use ‘reasonable force’ to get people to comply, but as reported in the Telegraph today, much will be reliant on the voluntary cooperation of arrivals.

Kit Malthouse, Minister of State for Crime, Policing and the Fire Service in the UK, said this morning that it would take “enormous compliance from the population generally” in order for the quarantine to be effective.

What do you think about the UK’s quarantine regulations? Will it work? Let us know in the comments.

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