UK Adds 14-Day Self-Quarantine For Arriving Travelers

Filed Under: Travel

I’m not sure why this wasn’t introduced months ago, but the UK has now revealed full details of an upcoming mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving travelers.

As of June 8, 2020, the United Kingdom will require all inbound passengers to self-quarantine for 14 days. This applies both to foreign visitors, as well as UK citizens returning home. The way this works:

  • All arriving passengers will have to fill out a “contact locator form,” which reveals plans for self-quarantining, onward travel information (if any), etc.; not filling this out could result in a £100 fine
  • Arriving passengers must travel directly to the address where they plan to self-quarantine, preferably by car (it’s a bit ridiculous that they’re allowing people to take public transportation, in my opinion)
  • If planned accommodations don’t satisfy authorities, arriving visitors will be put up in facilities arranged by the government
  • There will be a fine of up to £1,000 for those who don’t obey the self-quarantine
  • Arriving passengers will be encouraged — though not required — to download the contact tracing app
  • Some travelers will be exempt from the self-quarantine, including freight drivers, doctors, and scientists helping with the pandemic; fruit pickers will be expected to confine at the farms they work at
  • Travelers coming from everywhere except Ireland, the Channels Islands, and the Isle of Man, will be subjected to this

The UK plans to review this policy every three weeks based on how the situation progresses, so it sounds like at first this will be valid through late June 2020.

Bottom line

The UK will be adding a mandatory self-quarantine as of June 8, 2020. The policy will initially be in place for three weeks, and then can be extended from there. Prior to that (and for the next few weeks) the UK has no significant restrictions on arriving passengers.

This seems like an appropriate measure given how hard the UK has been hit by COVID-19. At the same time, I think it’s safe to assume that this will destroy any prospect of tourism.

Based on what has been revealed so far, it doesn’t appear that you can even get around the quarantine requirement by getting tested, either before or after traveling. It could be that details of that will still be announced, but you’d think there would be a way for people to avoid the quarantine.

What do you make of the UK’s new mandatory 14-day quarantine?

  1. Pure security theater. There have technically been self-isolation and at-home quarantine requirements in many parts of the world by now, and instead of a few places (Hawaii, east-asian countries), there is barely any enforcement.

    Without enforcement this quarantine requirement is merely a suggestion which will be largely ignored by everyone, as it should be.

  2. Can a traveler transit via Ireland and avoid this or does Ireland have some sort of international ban?

  3. Lucky I’m sorry but it’s not ridiculous to let people take transit. If wearing a mask, an infected person could be on a completely full bus and infect zero others. There is a public stigma against transit because many don’t wear masks, however that’s like saying don’t go to the grocery store because you could be infected, or don’t walk down the sidewalk. It’s like saying don’t order delivery because the person cooking the food could have covid. Transit is not unsafe, and is especially safer than taxis, ubers etc. as it has more space for distancing and usually stricter guidelines for masks and cleanliness.

  4. Why is it a bit ridiculous to take public transportation? If everyone is wearing masks like they’re supposed to (and the CDC and WHO assert are effective), then what’s the worry?

  5. “If planned accommodations don’t satisfy authorities, arriving visitors will be put up in facilities arranged by the government”

    So is UK picking up my food and lodging tab here?
    In the US or UK, I’m stuck at home anyway.
    But now I’m craving fish & chips. I’ll start booking flights. 14 days from June 8 it is.

  6. International travel is totally dead until these 14-day quarantines end. I’m thinking 12-18 months from now. That does not bode well for airlines who think things are going to pick up in a few months.

  7. What if someone flew to Ireland first. Stayed for a day perhaps and then onwards to the U.K. would they still be required to quarantine for 14 days ?

  8. I am not sure why anyone would want to leisure travel in UK at this point. Unless you have family or close friends that are willing to host you for at least 14 days it would be difficult and not particularly productive to do so. Most entertainment and attractions are shuttered. Incoming passengers will probably be briefed at passport check. Considering the extremely low numbers of travelers right now, it would not be particularly hard for authorities to keep track of people to some extent. People will figure out you are not from the UK or local to that area. From the feedback I am getting from known acquaintances in the UK and in Ireland, adherence to the rules is high. It seems rather pointless to go unless you have familial or business reasons that fall under one of the exempted categories.

  9. For countries in real lock down, the quarantine doesn’t change much really. Everything’s closed. Not like there is much to do. They haven’t even announced when bars and restaurants are going to be able to open here so what’s the point of tourism?

  10. Can this government’s response to this virus thing – and I voted for them – get any more hopeless? Shouldn’t this have been done, if it were going to be done at all, some weeks ago?

    Other than killing the slightest prospect of tourism, what does this achieve?

  11. This is a ludicrous measure which is 2 months too late — a text-book example of shutting the stable long after the horse has bolted (and ~50,000 people are dead).

    The U.K. government was already a strong candidate to win the award for worst mismanagement of Covid19. This latest theatre is just boosting their prospects.

  12. Does this apply to transit?
    Im looking at having to make a land side transit between 2 different airlines, with no way to through check baggage to my final destination, meaning I would have to briefly “enter” the UK, before flying further.
    Will this be allowed?

  13. As far as I understand it’s initially only for a three week period.

    If airline crew aren’t exempt , most non U.K. based airlines simply won’t be able to operate, unless for example the crew can return on the same flight and there are no night stops ( short haul ). An Emirates flight inbound from Dubai couldn’t be expected to house crew for 14 days 1 x flight a day = 100 staff each week

    The government housing is an option that needs to be in place. The taxpayer wouldn’t pick up the tab and the visitor would be required to pay

    It’s unlikely very many if any , are flying for vacations now given the restrictions at each end

  14. They have so much community spread now that it hardly matters and mostly hurts to do this now. It’s political messaging so citizens will feel like the problem isn’t them anymore

  15. @Icarus the problem is, due to having 2 tickets on 2 different airlines, I will need to enter the UK to collect baggage, and transfer from T3 to T2 to re-check onto my onward flight. Where can I find reliable information as to if I can do this type of transit?

  16. All these countries imposing 2 week quarantines, are they thinking about tourism?
    1. Who spends more than 2 weeks at one location while on vacation?
    2. And to spend those 2 weeks sitting in a hotel room???

  17. This won’t stop foreign crew from a layover in UK it would appear. It would only mean they can’t leave the hotel.

  18. Just checked and Canada has has the quarantine in place since April 15th. Also the penalty if you dont follwo the rules are 750,000$ (approx 535k USD) and/or 6 months jail time…

  19. @Lucky can you delete Greta’s comment? Using a * doesn’t make that word not offensive…

  20. @PW You will not be transferring terminals. If your flight is operating, and that is a big if given the reductions of service seen, you will not be using terminal 3. Terminal 3 has been shut for several weeks as has terminal 4. Only BA, Iberia and Loganair use T5 everything else is terminal 2. I suspect if you have to clear the border you will be subject to quarantine.

  21. @The nice Paul – The UK may well be in contention for the European Cup, but worldwide still has some distance to go if they want to be a serious contender.

    We al know who’s going to win that competition…standing tall on the podium, kissing the gold medal: U-S-A…U-S-A…U-S-A…
    We’re Number One! Wave that foam finger…

    Brazil and Tanzania look like pretty good picks for the Silver and Bronze.

  22. @Lucky,

    I’d like to know if EU citizens (or non-EU citizens, if/when the Schengen Area opens to them) can transit via the UK — either within the same airport or between airports (i.e. Heathrow to Gatwick) — to another EU country.

  23. This won’t last long.

    Our Home Office is in charge and let’s just say it’s not the most efficient part of the Government.

  24. It’s just to put visitors off from visiting unless essential, there may be some science relating to imported cases but I think that’s marginal. Anyone arriving who can’t provide details of where they are staying will be housed in port located hotels at the visitors expense, if they can’t afford to pay then they will be subject to the removal process. The fine print on details like transit passengers will be published later this evening.

  25. Absolute Joke. Pointless, and will infect more than it will save. For once I totally agree with O’leary’s view on this.

    They should be following the NZ/AU lead, you enter, you go into a quarantine hotel in a controlled way and you are let out when clear.

    Anything less is pointless – and don’t assume that a rule thast says you should wear a mask means people will. I think the British have already proved how unsuitable it is not to be crystal clear and quite forceful in their approach.

  26. Similar announced for Ireland except the fine is €2500 or up to 6 months in prison

  27. This would have made sense weeks ago but is completely futile at this point. The UK government is way off track in so many ways and this is the latest example. I’m embarrassed to be British.

  28. Too little, to late, and absolutely without teeth.

    Contact tracing optional, and worse yet, the penalty is only “a fine up to 1000 pounds”? So as long as you are suitably well off, you can basically ignore the quarantine and expect to pay less than the cost of a night at atop London hotel?

  29. The first fine (Discovered after spot check you are not at the declared address) You are issued an “on the spot fine” if you are found to still be violating the quarantine ( further spot checks) you would be subject to stage 2 “unlimited fine“ and removal. Relies on U.K. Border Force liaising with local police forces to carry out the spot checks which could be more problematic.

  30. But mark , airfarer,

    Greta is spot on, there are very few words that can encompass what a terrible terrible person Priti Patel is. In a few short months the is challenging for the title of most evil and vindictive Home Secretary in my lifetime and that’s a list that contains Theresa May and Michael Howard. It’s probably only her incompetence during the crisis and the crisis itself that has stopped her winning that title.

    The incompetence continues this quarantine is a much use a a chocolate teapot. Other countries are using hotel or GPS tags because people can’t be trusted. When incoming quarantine was the protocol in Australia people violated left right and centre because there are a tonne of selfish a***holes out there. Now you get locked in the intercontinental on arrival.

    As the nice paul says, too little and far too late, challenging and possibly overtaking the USA for sheer incompetence in managing Covid-19

  31. Quarantines make sense for Hawaii, New Zealand, Singapore, other isolated places with tiny number of infections. They’re absurd for vast majority of Western nations that have some level of infection, particularly nations like the US and UK that have relatively high COVID prevalence.

  32. Covid-19 has truly exposed the folly of having populist government officials in power who rely more on their gut than on science when such a pandemic hits. Why these quarantine measures weren’t taken in February or at the latest in March in the UK as well as the US baffles me. Had both countries started aggressively quarantining incoming travelers in early February when it was clear that the virus was not contained to China, they could have kept the number of infected at a level low enough to perhaps have contained the infections and spared thousands of lives and avoided wrecking their economies. The Chinese were complicit in hiding the true severity of the virus early on, but the whole world should have surmised how severe the virus was once the Chinese closed down Hubei Province in late January. Covid-19 has exposed both countries as basket cases when dealing with this crisis, and ultimately 2020 will go down as the year that the US and the Western World in general was eclipsed by China in world dominance, influence, and power. The West will never truly recover its global economic power after this pandemic is all said and done. Thanks very much Mr. Trump and Mr. Johnson

  33. If this is enforced, which it may be through follow-up checks, and continues beyond July, it will likely fully bankrupt VS and probably send BA into administration/bankruptcy protection. I get countries that have had very few cases or deaths keeping tourists out or quarantining them, but it is hard to see what real benefit the US or the UK can gain from travel bans or quarantines now? Except perhaps from Brazil, which due to having the most incompetent leader will become the true heart of COVID-19.

  34. Geoff and others,

    Our acting government (Ireland) introduced a law tonight where every person landing in Ireland has to sign a form declaring where they’ll be for the following 14 nights. You’re meant to be isolating there and it will be checked. However as we technically don’t have a government, it hasn’t been fully passed and this isn’t enforceable by law and in turn our police.

    We have so few flights into the country at the minute, there’s isn’t much chance to take advantage. You could do though with a bit of thought.

  35. Why 2 weeks notice? If the British government believes that a 14 day quarantine for everyone is needed, then should this not be effective within 24hrs? I do not understand British logic.

    The Australian experience with 14 day “self isolation” lasted 1 week. Then once it became clear that it was not being followed properly, it became a government enforced 14 day hotel quarantine paid by the government. Only then did the quarantine work.

  36. Conservatives love to promote the idea that they’re the best economic managers and certainly the best leaders in any sort of crisis. Bumbling, stumbling Boris and his band of clueless buffoons firmly discredits that theory, without even mentioning the orange blob.
    Of course the quarantine horse has bolted..long ago. This appears to be born of desperation and fear of a second wave.

  37. @PW — I am in the same situation except in September — I fly regularly SFO>LHR>Nice by UA to T2, then 2nd ticket BA onward from T5. I’ve always had to exit, clear customs, collect baggage, etc. I’m assuming the quarantine would be applicable only until it’s no longer necessary.
    All the more reason to pay close attention to my UA flight to LHR itself over the next several weeks!

  38. If people enter a few days prior to June 8, will they still be subject to the quarantine protocol once June 8 hits?

  39. Lucky, taking public transit is a way for people to live within their means financially. I work in the public transit sector and right now not many people are taking it, but this is a lifeline for transit-dependent people who are primarily low-income. This is an essential service and a means for many people to go to work, get groceries, visit the doctor, etc. To say it’s ridiculous to take public transit is a bit tone deaf. For those arriving to the UK, taking public transit is the most viable, and affordable option. Not everyone can afford to take a car.

  40. The UK government have made mistakes but not to the extent of the USA who have totally messed up and are led by a complete idiot. That is why you are still recording over 1,000 deaths a day and over 20,000 new cases daily. But that shows most of you are as bad as their leader and no way as superior as you all like to think you are.

  41. Thank God I retired from my airline crew member position. I use to fly MAN and LHR, but if I was still active those trips would be logistically impossible. Flying in from the USA requires rest time before returning. What bloody idiots these UK officials are.

  42. @ Eric — The “ridiculous” is only in conjunction with the other terms of the quarantine here. It’s precisely because it’s such an essential service for so many people that it seems nonsensical to allow it to be used by someone arriving in the UK with an unknown health status who is on their way to a mandatory self-isolation period. If the government is going to concern themselves with whether or not individual accommodations are “suitable,” one would think they’d want to limit the number of people being unnecessarily exposed via public transit as well.

  43. This may be a dumb question but….for the 14-day quarantine (anywhere), are you not allowed to go buy food and necessities first at all? How can a traveler arrive in a foreign country and head directly to a hotel/lodging without getting food and necessities? (Are there delivery services in the UK like Instacart?)

  44. I just hope things go back to the way they once were without all these restrictions and forced quarantines with traveling and that this virus gets crushed soon.

  45. The logic is that UK didn’t need a quarantine as a) there was widespread community exposure by that point anyway and b) the whole country was more or less under quarantine anyway, so low risk to others

    Now that the measures are being eased and community transmission is lower it is the correct time to implement

    Air crew are exempt per the full list

    I expect Europe to be loosened by July personally

  46. The regulations only allow for an airside transit. So separate tickets or separate airports isn’t going to be possible and I expect your airline would deny boarding at origin

  47. Amy, of course there are food delivery services and you can even get a delivery slot. I think the point is that the UK is saying don’t come here until we have this sorted; if you do come here we’re going to do a half arsed job of stoping you adding to the case load.

    Given how many of my friends back home in the UK have been struck down with Covid-19, how deeply unpleasant and painful even a mild case can be and how long the after effects are I don’t think I would chance visiting or transiting through a country that has been so incompetent at containing the virus.

  48. I have a home outside of London where I spend my summers travelling around other parts of GB&I to golf. Every year for a decade I leave LA for 5 months.

    This year there was no way I was going for mult reasons. Regardless of the timing of this new reg.

    I feel for all those tied to tourism. But the virus has to be stopped. Dead is not a good alternative.

    I fear it may be 2 years before seeing my home again and all the great people in GB&i.

  49. The U.K. has one of the highest transmission rates in the world, and if anything this quarantine actually protects foreign travellers more than Brits themselves. There is a reason why the U.K. was not included in Greece’s list of approved countries.

    I have family and friends in the U.K., but I have no plans to visit until the spread is under control.

  50. Hi Lucky
    As someone above mentioned, Crew are exempt from the regulation . Most countries or states have offered some sort of exception for essential workers which Air Crew are defined as. Even Hawaii, arguably with the strictest rules, has made an exception. Most state govt. or country specific govt. have issued paperwork for any crewmember to carry with them in case they are stopped on the street.

  51. @Charlie: unfortunately yes, also Spain imposed the same measure

    Imposing a general quarantine at this stage of the pandemic makes absolutely no sense. A traveller arriving from, say, Berlin is not more risk than a traveller arriving from Dublin or even Manchester. So the objective must be a different one.

    According to British media, it is primarily to stop Britons from traveling abroad. In particular the party scene in Mallorca and Ibiza … however, if you want to prevent a party (with obvious risk of contagion) you have to ban parties. Again, it doesn’t matter if the party takes place in Ibiza or East Midlands …

    Bottom line: Completely ridiculous and absurd measure.

  52. >Arriving passengers must travel directly to the address where they plan to self-quarantine, preferably by car (it’s a bit ridiculous that they’re allowing people to take public transportation, in my opinion)

    I agree. Why are they letting people who come from a flight right onto trains and buses? Isn’t that pretty much a guaranteed new infection?

  53. “It could be that details of that will still be announced, but you’d think there would be a way for people to avoid the quarantine.” – You could be infected and not testing positive yet, so a test on arrival won’t catch those people. Seems pretty clear this policy is not designed for tourists. Its for people who are going to be in the UK for a prolonged period of time. No idea why tourists would want to go there right now with everything going on.

  54. SM…….I absolutely 100% agree with you BUT I really feel that you are debasing yourself using the ‘C’ word. And missing off the odd letter doesn’t it any better.

  55. “I’m not sure why this wasn’t introduced months ago”

    Don’t worry, they’re still ahead of the US. AFAIK, we still haven’t imposed mandatory quarantine for all arrivals – only recommendation.

  56. If the post with the c-word is not taken down by the end of the day on Sunday, I am writing to the investor relations departments of advertisers on this site, including Chase, Citibank, Hyatt, and IAG, and asking (1) whether they want their tax dollars supporting sites that tolerate outright misogyny, and (2) if not, why they continue to advertise here.

  57. @ Feminist — Cool your jets. That word may be loaded for you, but is used much more casually in the UK. I presume you wouldn’t take issue with someone referring to Trump as a dick?

  58. Dick is a pretty soft word which can be used in a humorous way as well as derogatory whereas the C word is a foul word really only used in an abusive derogatory manner. Anyone who feels the ease of use of the word obviously suffers from a lack of vocabulary, as there are many other less vulgar but just as damning words that are appropriate for Ms. Patel.

  59. Lucky or Tiffany, You guys should write about Greece’s approach,where they have limited access to some countries from June 15

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