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UK To Shorten Quarantine To 5 Days With Testing

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Big changes are coming to the UK’s current 14-day quarantine policy that will see it shortened down to just 5 days, along with PCR testing.

Note: This article was originally published on November 12 when the ‘test to release' scheme was in preparation stage. Now it has been formally confirmed by the government. The original article continues below, with some updates….

Despite just having the highest daily case number ever reported in the UK, the government is expected to approve the proposal made by the Travel Task Force that will see the UK’s quarantine for arrivals outside of the travel corridor slashed from 14 days, to just 5.

The Global Travel Task Force, comprised of government figures in the ministries of transportation, health and trade, have suggested a 5-day program to replace the current 14 day, starting at the expected end of lockdown, on December 15

heathrow airport pcr testing

The new ‘test to release' program is actually a 5-day quarantine with a PCR test on the 5th day, in which a negative result will release the traveler 2 days later, making the total time in isolation 57 days instead of 14.

How much will it cost?

The PCR test will not be provided by the government of the UK and must be paid for privately by the traveler if they wish to be released from quarantine on the 5-7th day. Expected costs for the tests are anywhere from £80 to £150 but could lower in price with demand.

Traveler at airport mask

Who will be eligible for the new 5-day quarantine program?

Both citizens and tourists entering the country will be eligible to take part in the program.

This is of course if they are arriving or returning from a country that is not currently on the UK’s ‘travel corridor list’.

The travel corridor list is comprised of countries with a very low rate of infection that are considered low risk, therefore do not require a quarantine or test at all. Currently, the travel corridor list is updated weekly by the Department of Transportation.

Plane taking off near London Heathrow International Airport

When will the 7-day program begin?

The program will come into effect on December 15, 2020.

Travel During Lockdown

Leisure Travel Banned

England’s lockdown started on November 5th and immediately put a ban on leisure travel. Some of the travel rules during lockdown include:

  • Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences are not allowed. (This includes holidays both abroad and in the UK.)
  • If you own a second home, you are also not permitted to use it during the lockdown
  • Hotels will only be permitted for business stays. Leisure stays will be denied.
UK travel rules after december 2

Business Travel Permitted

However, travel for business purposes is still permitted, both abroad and domestic. Therefore, the travel corridor list has still been a very important tool in allowing essential international business activity to continue during the lockdown.  

Border entry rules were not affected by the lockdown, which require all arrivals that are coming from a country not on the travel corridor list to quarantine for 14-days. If the new program advised by the Travel Task Force is put into place on December 2nd, this will also allow business travelers coming from high-risk countries to only quarantine for 7 days.

London Heathrow’s Pre-Flight Covid Testing Misses the Mark

Campaigns throughout the nation have been begging the government to implement less restrictive measures at the border in order to revive the shattered tourism industry, airlines in particular.

british airways flight

While proposed air-bridges with high risk countries like the USA have been rumored for months, it seems the change to a 7-day quarantine with PCR testing is the only advancement happening in 2020.

Read More:  See what countries are on England's Travel Corridor List, which countries worldwide have no tests/quarantines, and which companies have travel insurance that covers covid

Sources: DailyMail /

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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


Thursday 10th of December 2020

Any news on testing facilities for the Test & Release scheme starting Dec 15TH?

Kashlee Kucheran

Friday 11th of December 2020

Yes, it's coming into effect and we are currently creating a guide on exactly how to use it. Coming over the next few days :)

Yvonne Tate

Tuesday 24th of November 2020

Can you break quarantine to go and get the test?

Kashlee Kucheran

Tuesday 24th of November 2020

You have to book a time for a test on the government site and options are to have them come to your home, or leave your house to go directly to their testing facility

Maureen Jackson

Friday 13th of November 2020

Even 7 days will be too much for most people. We holiday mainly in italy and whilst masks are mandatory outside, we will not travel.


Thursday 12th of November 2020

Seven days seems more reasonable. I wish Canada would get into high gear and catch up with the rest of the world. Our 14-day quarantine (especially with the holiday season arriving soon) is outdated and fairly cruel. I know that in Calgary they are testing a new testing protocol that will shorten quarantine, and Ontario may follow suit... but this country is very slow.

Instead of continuously extending the 14-day quarantine at the end of the month, continuously postponing and ruining plans, our government needs to start offering up concrete solutions that make sense...


Thursday 12th of November 2020

Will this be made mandatory? Or will visitors be aloud to quarantine without the testing for the full 14-day period still?

Kashlee Kucheran

Friday 13th of November 2020

It will be optional