UK Quarantine Rules Will No Longer Apply To Visitors From 60 Countries (USA Not One Of Them)


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In what can only be seen as an admission that its decision to impose quarantine restrictions on visitors from abroad was a monumentally idiotic idea, the British government has just published a list of 60 countries from which people may visit England without having to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Less than 4 weeks since the UK imposed quarantine restrictions on the majority of people entering the UK, the British government has given the green light for those restrictions to be lifted for visitors arriving into England from most regions of the world – at the time of writing, the devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland have not announced if they will be lifting restrictions in the same way as England.

From 10 July 2020, anyone entering the UK from the following countries (and who hasn’t visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days) will not be required to self-isolate upon their arrival:

The Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands were never subject to the UK’s quarantine rules (which is why they’re not on the list) and the government has said that the 14 British Overseas Territories will also receive an exemption.

Thoughts

The first thing that needs to be stressed is that the restrictions that remain in place are not based on a person’s citizenship but on where a person has been in the 14 days before traveling to England. What that means is this: If you are a citizen of a nation not listed above but have been residing in a country that’s is on the list (for at least 14 days before traveling), you are free to enter England without having to self-isolate for 14 days.

It’s important to point out that what has just been announced are just the rules for visitors arriving into the UK from abroad and this doesn’t signal any kind of reciprocity between England and the countries on the list. Some of the counties listed (like Spain) have already said that visitors from the UK will not have to self-isolate upon arrival but numerous countries on this list have yet to follow suit. If you’re traveling from the UK to a country listed above, do not assume that you will not be asked to self-isolate upon your arrival at your destination – do your research before you travel (preferably before you book).

Notable (but expected) countries missing from this list are the United States (I warned that this may happen back in May), China and Portugal but the list includes the likes of Greece and Cyprus which were far from being certainties just a few days ago (for political rather than health reasons) – this will be welcome news to a lot of British travelers.

It’s a little ridiculous that England, Wales, and Scotland haven’t been able to agree on the new rules before they were released (there is no way of stopping someone from flying into London and then driving to Wales or Scotland) but I expect both devolved administrations to make similar announcements very shortly.

Lastly, I can’t end this post without shining a light on the idiocy of the group of people that originally came up with the quarantine rules (they weren’t fit for purpose) and who insisted on implementing them despite the government’s own scientists admitting that they were mostly pointless. In the four weeks that the rules have been in place, the health situation in the countries whose residents are now allowed into England without having to self-isolate have not changed for the better (some have actually got marginally worse), and there have been next to no reports of any attempt by the UK authorities to impose the quarantine rules once visitors have left their ports of entry – the whole idea was farcical from start to finish, it served no purpose whatsoever and the only people who benefited from the UK’s quarantine rules were the lawyers representing the airlines who took the government to court.

Heads should roll for this…but they won’t.

Bottom Line

Overall, this is an embarrassing climb-down by the British Government but it’s excellent news for the travel industry and it’s great news for a lot of people who were hoping not to have to spend summer at home this year…let’s just hope that people who choose to travel do so responsibly (wear a mask!) and don’t go around acting as if the crisis is over – it’s not. Not by a long way.

Link to more details of today’s government announcement 

8 COMMENTS

  1. From what I read, I….as a US citizen, can still enter the UK as long as I have been in a country on their approved list for 14 days or longer. It appears to read that way on the UK.gov site and also from what you wrote. What do you think?

  2. talking about idiocy, how, when, with whom, do you have to show proof, that you have been staying 14 days in the above mentioned countries?

    • Most passports will be checked when a traveler enters a country (this doesn’t apply to EU passport holders traveling inside the Schengen area) so UK immigration should be able to see where most people have been traveling in the past few weeks when their passport is scanned at the UK border.

      There will certainly be examples where no check can (or will) be made. E.g it will probably be possible for someone to fly into Spain, drive into Portugal, enjoy a vacation there and return to the UK via Spain without being asked to self isolate, despite the fact that Portugal isn’t on the list of 60 countries.

    • The UK quarantine rules say that you have to self-isolate for 14 days or for as long as you are in the UK if you’re not in the country for 14 days. That would suggest that you should be ok if you transit as, worst-case scenario, you’re entering and leaving the country as quickly as you can and you can’t be expected to self-isolate in the airport.

      Note: this is just my interpretation of the rules so I suggest checking with the airline(s)if you plan to transit.

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