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COVID-19 UK travel restrictions: update

Posted by: Gherson Immigration

This blog addresses the upcoming changes to England’s COVID-19 travel restrictions. Please note that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own COVID-19 policies and these should be consulted independently depending on your travel plans.


Current situation: 

Government guidance currently requires all those arriving in the UK, including British nationals, to undergo a 14-day quarantine period. 

Exceptions to this quarantine requirement extend to those entering England from the Common Travel Area (“CTA”) (Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man) and for those entering the UK from an approved list of countries with open travel corridors with the UK (see the list here. Note that this list is constantly updated and should be checked regularly).  

Additionally, under the national lockdown guidance in place until 2 December 2020, those who are in England cannot travel abroad for non-essential reasons, such as a holiday or going to a second home.


Coming changes:

From the end of the national lockdown period, according to current Government announcements, the restriction on non-essential travel will be lifted, and those within England will be able to travel abroad for non-essential reasons. Those intending to travel abroad after the current period of national lockdown ends should consult the official COVID-19 policy in place at their intended destination. 

On 15 December 2020, new rules for foreign travellers arriving from non-travel corridor countries will come into force, which are expected to shorten the required quarantine period. 

Whilst the requirement to quarantine will not be removed, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has indicated that a system of voluntary testing may limit the quarantine period for some international travellers. 

Travellers will be given the option to take a private COVID-19 test after five days of quarantine following their arrival. Should the result of this test be negative, the traveller will not need to continue their quarantine. If the test returns positive, then the period of quarantine must continue and the person in question will be subject to further obligations as set out in the Government guidance in force at that time.

This change to the quarantine policy for foreign travellers has been hailed as a move in the right direction by the travel industry, and is aimed at boosting international travel. 

The above changes have not come into effect at the time of writing, and are expected to be introduced on 15 December 2020.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2020

Spencer Bienvenue 

  Spencer Bienvenue

  Paralegal in our General Immigration Team


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