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UK clarifies 14-day quarantine rules

A 14-day quarantine requirement will be in place in the UK from June 8 for both British and other nationals coming into the country.

People planning to come in for shorter periods would have to spend the whole stay in quarantine.

A short list of exemptions includes lorry drivers, medical workers fighting Covid-19, certain officials and people coming from Ireland (due to the UK-Ireland common travel area).

Contrary to what was thought at one stage, arrivals from France will not be exempt, said UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, announcing the rules.

Nor will there be, at least in the short-term, any so-called ‘air bridges’ between certain approved foreign destinations (permitted flight routes without quarantine rules), though Ms Patel said the idea could not be ruled out later on.

The rules include:

  • A ‘Contact locator form’ – All arriving passengers will be required to fill in an online form to provide information on their travel plans, contact details and the address where they will stay.
  • Self-isolation - Passengers will be required to self-isolate for 14 days at the address they give. They should travel there with their own transport, if possible. They should stay at home entirely, apart from limited situations such as “compassionate reasons” including going to a funeral, or to attend a medical appointment, the British Embassy said. They may also leave it in “an emergency,” a spokeswoman added. They should not go out for tasks such as food purchase or other essentials “where they can rely on others” and they should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are “providing essential support”.
  • Enforcement - Anyone failing to comply may face enforcement action. A breach of self-isolation would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England, though in some cases it could involve potential prosecution and an unlimited fine. The level of fine could increase if the risk of infection from abroad increases. The devolved authorities in the other parts of the UK will set out their own enforcement approaches though the general rules will apply everywhere.
  • Spot checks – The Border Force will undertake checks at the border and may refuse entry to any non-British citizen who refuses to comply with these regulations and is not resident in the UK. Failure to complete the form is also punishable by a £100 fixed-penalty notice. Public health authorities will conduct random checks in England to ensure compliance with self-isolation requirements. Removal from the country would be considered as a last resort for foreign nationals who refuse to comply with these measures.
  • Accommodation – Those not able to provide accommodation details may be offered accommodation by the government, at their own expense.

People arriving will also be encouraged to download the ‘NHS Covid-19’ contact tracing app and use it during the stay.

The rules were announced tonight as fact, and it was not suggested they are reliant on an MPs' vote. Ms Patel said they would be reviewed every three weeks to ensure they remain appropriate.

The reason given for the measure is that as the transmission rate in the UK falls and the number of travellers arriving in the UK begins to increase in the coming months, imported cases may pose a larger threat as they could become a higher proportion of the overall number of infections in the UK and so increase the spread of the disease.

Ms Patel said the priority was to save lives and prevent a second wave.

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