The mandatory 14-day quarantine for all passengers arriving into the UK from non-corridor countries will be shortened down to 10 days, starting on December 14, 2020.
Since the start of the pandemic the UK has required all travelers, both citizens and tourists, arriving from high-risk areas to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, which has made the return of both general tourism and business travel nearly impossible.
A statement has been collectively made by four of the UK’s Chief Medical Officers clarifying the new amendment “After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10. People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.”
The UK isn’t the only one to adapt their entry requirements based on this new recommendation. Hawaii just announced they will also be applying the advice on shortened quarantines from the CDC and are amending their 14-day quarantine to just 10 days for travelers that opt out of testing.
The new shortened quarantine requirement will come into effect on Monday, December 14th and will apply to all of the UK; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Any traveler entering the UK after December 14th will no longer have to complete the full 14-day quarantine, but instead adhere to a shortened version of just 10 days. Those looking to get out of isolation even sooner will also have options if they are willing to pay for a private PCR test.
Self-isolation for contacts of people with coronavirus shortened from 14 to 10 days across UK from Mon— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) December 11, 2020
Change also applies to people instructed to quarantine after returning from non-exempt countries. And 'Test to Release' available after 5 days for non-Travel Corridor returns
Test To Release Program
Another major change is coming to the UK’s entry requirements, just one day after the new 10-day self-isolation rule comes into play.
On December 15th the UK will begin its Test To Release program which allows arrivals from a high-risk area to take a PCR test on day 5 of quarantine, of which receiving negative results will release the traveler from the remainder of the quarantine requirement.
The government has been very clear that travelers looking to test out of isolation early cannot use NHS’s services and must pay for a test from a private provider, which can cost upwards of £130. The ministry of Transportation is expected to launch a list of approved private testing providers before the official launch of the program.
The test to release program is completely voluntary and applies to those self-isolating in England only. It is unsure if the rest of the UK will also adopt the program.
Travel Corridor Still Intact
While the UK’s travel corridor list has been shrinking since its inception, the corridor program is still intact and will give passengers the most freedom of any other entry program. Those traveling or returning to England from a travel corridor country will not have to quarantine or test out upon arrival, providing they have no symptoms and haven’t visited any high-risk countries in the past 14 days.
Sun destinations like Aruba, Bermuda, Barbados, UAE, St. Lucia and the BVI’s are all currently on the corridor list, giving Brits some options for vacations that don’t include having to quarantine upon return home.
Business Travel Exemption
Last week Secretary of State for Transportation Grant Shapps also announced new exemptions to quarantine requirements for “high value business travelers” entering England from a high-risk area as of December 5th. What is considered as high value has been under some controversy, as Shapps originally quoted those negotiating deals over £100,000 will qualify, but the real figure published by the government suggests the figure might be as high as £100 million.
Shapps also confirmed that certain performing arts professionals will also qualify to skip quarantine, including TV production staff, journalists, and elite athletes.
Who Can Enter the UK?
Since the start of the pandemic, the UK never truly closed its borders to foreign arrivals like many other countries did. Travelers from high-risk countries like the USA have been able to enter the UK, albeit with a 14-day quarantine.
Now that the 14 day self-isolation is now being shortened to 10 days, that now means tourists and travelers from countries like Canada, the USA, Mexico, also get to reap the benefit of a reduced quarantine time, if they don’t choose to participate in the test to release program.
You can see all of the UK’s Covid-19 Entry Requirements here
UK Leads The Way
The UK has become a world leader in tourism and business travel recovery due to quickly implementing new amendments and procedures that not only allow the economy to start recovering but also as safely as possible.
With their pre-flight testing facilities inside airports, the official travel corridor list, the new shortened quarantine, the test to release program, and their business travel exemptions, the UK is blazing a trail that other nations should follow.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories