UK Will Exempt “High Value Business Travelers” From Quarantine

Filed Under: Travel

The UK’s current quarantine requirement for travelers from high risk areas will soon no longer apply to certain business travelers, journalists, athletes, and more.

The UK’s new quarantine exemption

The Department for Transport has announced a new set of exemptions for passengers arriving into the UK. As of 4AM on Saturday, December 5, 2020, select individuals will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival.

Eligible passengers include the following:

  • “Individuals undertaking specific business activity which would deliver a significant benefit to the UK economy — including activity that creates or preserves 50+ UK jobs”
  • Domestic and international performing art professionals, TV production staff, journalists, and recently signed elite sportspersons

As this decision is described, this is intended to ensure that “industries which require specific, high talent individuals who rely on international connections can continue to complete their work.”

Furthermore, the business travelers who are exempt will only be allowed to meet with others as required by that specific activity during their travels.

The government claims that this shouldn’t raise the risk of domestic coronavirus transmission, due to the protocols being put in place around these exemptions.

We’ll have to wait for all the terms associated with these new rules, which are expected to be published by Saturday.

For context:

Is this an unreasonable policy?

I see a lot of people suggesting things along the lines of “so the rich, powerful, and famous can avoid quarantine, while others can’t? Are they immune from coronavirus?”

I don’t disagree with that sentiment, though I have a few initial thoughts:

  • We’re not talking about Australia or New Zealand here, where one case is one too many, and where quarantines are strictly enforced and in monitored facilities; the UK has a lot of coronavirus cases, and it’s reasonable for some cases to slip through the border
  • The UK’s current 14 day quarantine is largely unenforced, and is widely violated by people
  • I’d like to see the UK do testing on arrival and then maybe another test five days later for business travelers who skip quarantine, but the UK hasn’t done a great job with travel testing across the board

With that in mind, I have reasons I’m both in favor of this and opposed to this:

  • Is it completely wrong for us to collectively prioritize someone who is traveling for business in a significant way, rather than someone who wants a weekend getaway to party in Ibiza?
  • The fundamental problem is that most business travelers probably consider themselves “high value,” so we’ll have to wait and see the terms associated with this
  • Then again, it’s not like the quarantine requirement is enforced for non-business travelers, so I think it’s largely a non-issue

Bottom line

The UK will no longer require select travelers to quarantine when arriving from “high risk” areas. This includes “high value” business travelers, athletes, journalists, and more.

I’m not quite as offended by this concept as other people are. My issue ultimately comes down to enforcement. Who gets to decide what business travelers are high value, or who is a journalist (and for the record, to get out ahead of this, I don’t consider myself to be a journalist)?

I do think travel for someone who can save 50+ jobs in the UK is more important than travel for someone who wants to go on a weekend getaway. I suspect we’ll see quite a bit of abuse of this, but then again, we’ve also seen quite a bit of abuse of the 14 day quarantine. In other words, it’s just business as usual.

What do you make of this new exception for the UK quarantine?

  1. So if I flash my press card, I can skip self-isolation and visit a pub* in the UK?

    *as long as I order a “substantive meal” such as a scotch egg with my pint of beer, that is, talking about weird measures.

    UK rules are making less sense by the day..

  2. In 2 weeks the UK will permit travellers to take a test after 5 days of arrival. If it’s negative you don’t need to quarantine for a further 9 days.

  3. It’s a very grey area. And it is not fair. Proper testing system – before departure and after arrival – should have been done ages ago instead of quarantine ( which is very often ignored ). Unfortunately all decisions are made in UK with huge delay. Vaccination will start next week and still nobody knows what kind of proof we will get ( passport, stamp, hologram, QR code, App ?? ), nobody mentioned how vaccine will help travelling business etc. Disaster.

  4. So lets see – dying grandma, no go.
    Some corporate peon selling brooms or toilet seats = national priority

  5. An alternate set of covid rules determined by people who live by an alternate set of Covid rules. When will you people learn, this has never been about safety.

  6. Lovely. Once again small business owners who compete overseas with larger companies are put at a disadvantage. And we wonder why small businesses are either forced into selling or dying? If this becomes a trend it will be impossible for me to compete in the U.K. over the coming months. Thus far it’s been a stalemate going to the U.K., all in the same boat…but with this formula the firms bigger than me will have easy access and hit the ground running now while I wait months for the vaccine.

  7. Adding this change to the announcement by ECDC & EASA that suggests there is no increased risk to the spread of COVID from passengers arriving by air only shows that lockdowns and travel restrictions in many countries are political and not driven by facts. It’s interesting that we’re nearly a year into this and now the high net worth business folks (ie high spenders) can travel when they have been using zoom this entire time.

  8. What a bunch of whingers you responders are. Up on your moral high horses and making judgements on others who have to make decisions. There are always winners and losers depending on your perspective. Impugning motives to the decision speaks ill of most of you.

  9. @Paul, Given your typing, perhaps cut down on the Scotch? And, last I checked, critical thinking is at the very core of our existence and ability to evolve. Right?

  10. 2Paul: so basically your making judgements on those with different opinions than yours is more responsible. What a joke. Exactly on the same level as the decision that value determines you are less risk to society.

    Once again capitalism raises its ugly head and proves why humans are devoid of common sense and unbiased behavior. I say fine tune this even more. Make it only white, boomers, Christian, and straight are allowed to bypass the quarantine. At least you will be honest about the intent here.

    To agree with this in any sense says a lot about your privilege. .

  11. It’ll be interesting to learn how they expect you to evidence your entitlement to such a free pass, and whether it’ll actually be checked up on in the same thorough manner that the existing locator form thingy is.

  12. How exactly are they going to determine if activity creates or preserves 50+ UK jobs? Every economic impact study I have ever seen inflates the jobs created to ridiculous amounts. Remember when Foxconn was going to create 13,000 jobs? They have hired 281 people. The jobs created portion is not out of line with everything else I have seen. The 3.3 billion was a bit much.

  13. Stuart, you can deliver a significant benefit to the UK economy if you service enough clients there.

  14. @Joe. I’m considering it. I’ve been working on my abs and sharpening my wit. Escorting might be the only small business left after all is said and done. And I am determined to be ready!

  15. The UK quarantine is unenforced if you are unemployed or work for yourself. If you work for somebody and go abroad there is no way of hiding it and your employer will enforce 14 day quarantine without pay.

    As for rich not needing to quarantine – people are equal but as always there are people more equal then others.

  16. it’s not the “rich” who this is for – it is people who are deemed important for the UK in terms of the value they bring to the country. That doesn’t mean rich people who spend a lot, it means artists, athletes, journalists etc. Presumably certain business travelers too, if they have a big economic impact. I don’t see how this is an issue.
    Visas are granted along similar lines already.
    This will not meaningfully affect the covid numbers. These kinds of travelers are likely much more careful, and would keep to themselves, than the sorts of people you might find roaming bars and pubs, wearing their masks as “chin diapers” and being careless.
    And anyway, travelers don’t contribute meaningfully to the spreading of the disease (unless you are New Zealand with no local cases). The UK, the US, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, so many countries have a ton of cases. Travel doesn’t effect the numbers that much, because there is VERY little travel. What the local population does, that’s where 99.9% of the spread is.

    What is ridiculous is that quarantines are not enforced at all, and how poor the testing infrastructure is.
    A much better system for the UK would be to test these high-value travelers on arrival, and have them isolate the day until the result comes back. It will only take a day, but you might catch a few cases over the course of the next months.

  17. If I can’t open my restaurant or concert or event which saves 50+ jobs, then the rich people shouldn’t be able to use the 50 job excuse either

  18. @Gus. Sorry, it IS about the rich. Get woke. Large corporate will be all over this and living the dream. And really, athletes? You imply athletes are careful? The NFL is a perfect example of how absurd that comment is. They are entitled and completely oblivious as seen over the past few months. This smells of one thing only, money and power. Let’s get in to our country as much of the wealthy on an exception as we can to fill the coffers, in the meantime be damned the rest. It’s disgusting and offensive.

  19. What the UK government is saying is “Who cares? We’ve given up on the Covid thing”.
    Pretty much like the USA.
    My response is to avoid both countries for the foreseeable future.

  20. The UK still lives in the Medieval Era. It is by far the most unpleasant place to visit in Europe and I avoid it.

  21. Who are we to judge when, apparently the UK has ‘much better scientists’ than France, Belgium or the US and Brexit gives you vaccines.

  22. There are special people, and there are ordinary people. What a traditional British idea. Charles Dickens would incorporate this distinction into his next novel if he were still alive.

  23. Yet another example of “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.

    Governments show their true colors. We aren’t all equal in the eyes of the government powers that be, and this is the way for government actors to show who are their favorites and who are not.

  24. It’s technically illegal here in New Jersey to sit on your countertop, that’s a baseless law. Similarly, so is this. It will now just open the floodgates to the refusal from people to self isolate when reaching the UK. I for one will not be self isolating when I travel now. Having different rules just because someone is rich or famous is BS, and I don’t care for this

  25. This is actually one of a pair of proposals — the other is that international visitors on short (1-3 day) business trips would also be exempt from quarantine rules.

    The U.K. has one of the highest death scores in the world, so it hasn’t covered itself in glory with its handling of Covid19. The test and trace regime has been particularly poor. A desperately slow response and contradictory government communications have made things worse.

    But… mass unemployment and grinding poverty would also lead to more deaths. The public health task is to achieve the least-worst balance of all the problems, not to focus on just one target while forgetting the rest.

    Working out the best mix of policies and regulations is far beyond me, and in a novel situation we do also need some experimentation with different approaches. That’s the only way we can learn.

    (There’s a nice example of that with the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine; a mistake in the testing regime seemed to show that different dosing led to vastly improved effectiveness: up from ~60% to ~90%. Now that needs to be tested further, but without the difference we would not be looking at — potentially — a much more effective vaccine.)

  26. You’re wrong about Australia. The list is long of celebs who have avoided hotel quarantine and been able to quarantine at home. Nicole Kidman, Tom hanks, Natalie Portman to name a few. Still quarantining but unlike everyone else can do it at their home (or rented property).

  27. Coronavirus : Whats up! I am going to affect you
    The Human : But- But I am a High Value Business Traveller
    Coronavirus : Understandable, have a nice day!

  28. Isn’t this type of exemption scheme what moved Hong Kong from having the virus under control to it spiking multiple times?
    Troubling to see that, for example, athletes outrank aesthetes in personal freedom under such rules. Locke would be appalled (and, were he still alive, unable to fly into the U.K., unless he was there as the boss of Locke Enterprises, apparently).

  29. Lol. The people complaining about this policy are the same people that call for “non-essential” businesses be shut down. Hypocrites much?

    Unreal at the morons who have actually brought race and sex into this. You folks are insane.

  30. Australia has been granting several exemptions to politicians, billionaires, sport stars and celebrities who get to dodge quarantine requirements. However a normal citizen has been unable to leave the country or even attend a loved ones funeral
    In another state. Please correct your article to reflect these facts

  31. What a joke. Just get rid of the whole quarantine system. It’s unenforced anyway and doesn’t make any sense at all – this update just goes to prove it. By the way, releasing domestic restrictions (e.g. on restaurants) would save far more jobs than letting athletes in.

    Border restrictions make sense for countries that go for elimination. Countries with a community spread should just stop with this border fetish. Virus doesn’t care about lines on a map.

  32. Canada is worse. I have important reasons to go to Canada and have facilities for a quarantine. Canada and Justin refuse. They deem only certain non-essential travel as “essential ” and really important travel as non-essential. In contrast, America lets Canadians in by air.

  33. @Samo: such a shame you are so inconvenienced. Can’t even go to a restaurant. I am sure those that have died or spent time in ICU wish they could go out to eat too.

    @Derek: yes, the governments should all consider the Worthy Derek as essential. What are they thinking? You feel your presence is essential, so be it, you are essential. What do they know anyway? After all, you are willing to take on the responsibilities of all their people should someone get sick. Right?

    Such entitled pr**ks.

  34. UK is about to violate the Good Friday agreement.

    Daddy USA will place sanctions on them as they haven’t truly been an independent country since 1957 thanks to antony eden

  35. On what science, if any, is this hierarchical admittance policy based? I had no clue that the virus exempts certain tax brackets. Us poor peasants and serfs who have lost jobs and income would, however, like to know.

  36. @Always Flying Somewhere: please back this up or is this just what “those that know on FB” post?

    @Peter: it is the Science of Money. Isn’t that what drives all government decisions in societies based on Capitalism? The UK, like the US, could give a flying f about looking fair to it’s middle and lower classes.

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