What Is Going On With The UK’s 14 Day Quarantine?

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You have probably seen a lot of stories in the press recently about the Government’s proposed 14 day quarantine for people arriving in the UK – including Brits coming back from abroad.

With countries like Italy and Portugal now opening up to travellers from the UK and the new quarantine rules here coming into force on Monday 8th June 2020, it’s important to fully understand the situation.

The first thing to note is that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is still advising “against all but essential travel”.

That advice may change, but for now the message is clear.

If you do have to travel for essential reasons, from Monday 8th June, this is what you have to do when you get back:

“If you arrive in the UK on or after 8 June 2020, you will not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK (known as ‘self-isolating’).

This is because it can take up to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear.

Before you travel, you should provide your journey, contact details and the address where you will self-isolate. You will be able to complete the public health passenger locator form 48 hours before you arrive. You must present these details on your arrival”. 

You do not need to complete the form or self-isolate if you’re travelling from one of the following places, and you were there for 14 days or more:

  • Ireland
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man

The main thing to be aware of is that the ‘self isolating’ conditions you have to live under for 14 days are extremely strict. You can read the full information here, but the main points are as follows:

On arrival:

“When you arrive in the UK, go straight to the place you’re staying.

Only use public transport if you have no other option. If you do use public transport, wear something that covers your nose and mouth and stay 2 metres apart from other people. Pack a face covering or scarf to cover your nose and mouth before you travel. If you have coronavirus symptoms, you will not be allowed to travel by public transport and will need to demonstrate that the accommodation where you will self-isolate is safe.”

When you get home

You should self-isolate in one place for the full 14 days, where you can have food and other necessities delivered, and stay away from others. You must self-isolate at the address you provided on the public health passenger locator form.

This can include:

  • your own home
  • staying with friends or family
  • a hotel or other temporary accommodation

You should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential care.The only friends and family who you can have contact with are those who travelled with you or people who you are staying with.

You cannot go out to work or school or visit public areas.

You should not go shopping. If you require help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives or order a delivery.

In England, you must only exercise within your home or garden.

You cannot leave your home to walk your dog. You will need to ask friends or relatives to help you with this.

‘Self-isolation’ is a lot stricter than the general lockdown measures that were in force until recently.

Any exemptions?

Yes, quite a lot actually.

In addition to people travelling from Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, there is a long list of exemptions based on occupation. The vast majority will be “Registered health or care professionals travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare, including where this is not related to coronavirus”.

Unless the language is tightened up before 8th June, this exemption would appear to apply to well over 1 million healthcare and social care workers.

Bottom line

To be honest, I think the proposed 14 day self-isolation policy (as currently drafted) is unworkable and strongly suspect that it will be ‘clarified’ and adapted numerous times over the next month or so. But, it is still very important to understand what the rules are when considering whether travel is genuinely essential or not. Always check the latest information before booking anything.

Airlines are understandably beginning to advertise again, however some are doing so in a way that is arguably irresponsible. They are hoping that Government policy will change in time for Summer Holidays, but are not always making it clear that there is a risk of having to undergo 14 days of self-isolation on return.

Hopefully, a more practical policy will be developed, but there is a possibility that will not happen.

What do you think about the 14 day self-isolation policy?


  1. Ben Lloyd says

    At this point it feels like the government is only pressing ahead with the quarantine plan so they don’t have to admit how pointless the measure is this late in the pandemic response. I would be surprised if it lasts more than one three-week review period.

    So while British Airways are permitting free date changes, I’ve gone ahead and booked for Portugal in early July. If travel restrictions aren’t lifted by then, I will rebook for later in the year.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Yes – I reckon they will keep some form of it in place for a while (months), but there will surely be exceptions for Brits travelling back from countries with lower transmission rates than the UK (which are prepared to let people from the UK visit in the first place!). Whether that happens before early July I’ve no idea, but as you say, you can always just rebook anyway.

  2. Will Duff says

    I have family in S-E Asia including a son who is recovering from a (non-COVID) serious illness who I want to see, as well as his Mum. They have few COVID cases, but a draconian foreigner quarantine rule, so cannot travel yet. If/when I do get out, I will feel safe there, but 2 X 6/7 hour flights may be risky – either way. Just hope some effective treatment will appear soon. Do not feel hopeful for a vaccine yet.

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