The UK has made the decision to suspend its travel corridors from Monday, January 18th in order to prevent the spread of new variants of Covid-19.
At present, British travelers and foreign arrivals enjoy the freedom of being able to arrive back into England from 60+ different destinations around the world without the need to quarantine upon arrival. However, from Monday, this will no longer be the case.
Here’s a closer look at what travel corridors are, and what the decision means for travel to the UK.
What Are Travel Corridors? A Guide For Travelers
Travel corridors – often also referred to as travel bubbles – are agreements between countries that allow for a more streamlined process of traveling between two or more countries. Quite often they include an agreement such as travel without the need to quarantine upon arrival or return.
Travel corridors are currently in operation all over the world, as countries try and find a way to keep both tourism and business travel ticking over in spite of the pandemic. For example, Singapore has travel corridors in place with several countries, whilst the EU has had similar arrangements for its member states. As different countries progress with their vaccination efforts and work towards halting the spread of the virus, travel corridors may be an increasing theme of travel in 2021.
UK’s Travel Corridor
The UK currently enjoys a travel corridor arrangement with several countries around the world. The countries are:
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Bermuda, Bhutan, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, Gibraltar, Greek islands: Corfu, Crete, Kos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, Greenland, Grenada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Macao (Macau), Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Montserrat, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, Rwanda, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Sri Lanka, St Barthélemy, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turks and Caicos Islands, Vanuatu and Vietnam.
The current arrangement means that travelers who have spent that last 10 days in one of these places do not need to self-isolate when they return to the UK. However, from 4 AM GMT on Monday 18th January, this arrangement will be suspended for at least the next 4 weeks.
What Does This Mean For Travel To The UK?
The suspension of the UK travel corridor means that all arrivals into the UK, regardless of where they are flying from, will need to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test and self-isolate for 10 days upon arriving into the country. Under the UK’s Test to Release scheme, the period of isolation could be shortened to 5 days.
The decision has been made in response to the discovery of new strains of the virus around the world, which are more transmissible and virulent than the normal strain of Covid-19. By forcing arrivals to test and isolate, it limits the potential for those carrying the new strain to pass it on to others.
Anyone entering the UK from a previous travel corridor country past Monday will have to quarantine for 10 days or use the ‘test to release’ program, in addition to the new pre-departure testing rule that also comes into place on the same day.
Also starting January 18 – Arrivals who enter the UK without proof of a negative test for Covid-19 taken in the last 72 hours will face a fine of £500. The UK is set to review the policy on Monday 15th of February.
UK Bans Entry From 16 Countries Over New Strains
Another major recent change for entry into the UK happened on Friday, as the British government enacted a ban on new arrivals from all South American countries as well as Cape Verde and Portugal over fears that a new COVID-19 variant has emerged in Brazil.
The ban came into effect on Friday January 15 and will apply to all non-resident arrivals. UK residents returning from the affected countries will be permitted to travel but must quarantine for 10 days on arrival.
All passengers into the UK after Monday, January 18, 2021, will be required to:
- Bring proof of a negative PCR test, performed no longer than 72 hours before arrival into the UK.
- Fill out the passenger locator form
- Agree to quarantine for 10-days, with the option of using the ‘test to release’ program to shorten quarantine to 5 days
- Travel corridors will be suspended for at least 4 weeks
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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