HomeGeneral TravelEngland Will Give A Quarantine Exemption To Select Business Travelers & Professions

England Will Give A Quarantine Exemption To Select Business Travelers & Professions

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England has been imposing 14-day quarantines on travelers arriving from most parts of the world since the middle of the summer but, from 16 December, that quarantine is period set to be reduced to just five days for travelers who test negative for Covid-19 on day five. Now the government is going a step further by offering a full exemption from quarantine for select business travelers and select professions.

Thursday is the day that we usually see England add and remove various countries and regions to/from its travel corridor list but yesterday saw no changes made. Instead, the government announced what it calls “a limited number of exemptions” for passengers arriving into England who meet a set of required criteria.

Exemptions To England’s Quarantine Rules

From 04:00 on 5 December, individuals undertaking a specific business activity which, as the UK government describes it “would deliver a significant benefit to the UK economy” will no longer need to self-isolate when traveling from non-exempt countries. In addition (and at the same time), exemptions will also come into force for the following professions:

  • Domestic and international performing arts professionals
  • TV production staff
  • Journalists
  • Recently signed elite sportspersons

The government says that the exemptions are necessary to ensure that “industries which require specific, high talent individuals who rely on international connections can continue to complete their work“.

The new rules haven’t been fully disclosed yet (probably because the government hasn’t yet decided on the details) but the statements made so far make it clear that the exemptions to the national quarantine rules are only valid when an individual is “undertaking the specific business activity [which is granting him or her an exemption]” and that the individual “will only be able to meet with others as required by that specific activity”.

All travelers, including those from exempt destinations, will still be required to show a complete passenger locator form on arrival into the UK unless they fall into a further small group of exemptions that have been around since the quarantine rules were first introduced.


From what we’ve seen so far it looks as if the new exemptions only apply to England and not to Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland (although the devolved governments in those countries/regions may choose to follow suit).

It’s hard to comment too deeply on last night’s announcement until we see the full details of who will be given an exemption and how rigorous the conditions attached to that exemption will be, but I can already hear the clamor of people asking why some individuals and professions get an exemption while they don’t.

The answer to that is simple. If you haven’t been given an exemption, your profession or professional body doesn’t have enough lobbying power in Westminster.

There’s very obviously no scientific reason why a business person, sportsperson, journalist, performing artist, or member of TV production staff should be exempt from quarantine any more than anyone else (on the basis that these people may be more likely to have been mixing with a lot of other people in the days leading up to their trip, you could probably make an argument saying they should be quarantined for as long as possible), but various lobbying groups have had their say and this is what we’ve ended up with.

In truth, from what little we’ve seen of the rules so far I don’t have much confidence that the finished article will be particularly robust. I’ll be interested to see how the government plans to make sure that exempt business people, for example, only meet with others for the purposes of the activity which granted them an exception. Will exempt individuals who go out shopping, eat out in a restaurant, visit a gym or go to the theatre be fined for breaking the rules (assuming anyone bothers to try to catch them out)? Will a journalist talking to anyone other than someone directly involved in a story he/she is covering be in breach of their exemption? Moreover, how is any of this going to be monitored?

When we finally see the full set of rules (it would have been nice if the government could have had them ready in time for the official announcement but apparently that’s too much to ask), I suspect they’ll be so full of holes that they’ll be toothless and unenforceable in practice. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Bottom Line

From Saturday, people belonging to select professions and people considered important to the UK economy will no longer have to self-isolate upon entering England even if they’re arriving from a country where the coronavirus is raging out of control. What could possibly go wrong?

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  1. on a very practical note: Have you seen ANY border controls were the BF would check your PLForm? ask you about your visit? or to make it even more simple, have you seen any checks or enforcement of these quarantine rules? all is nice and good, but without any enforcement whatsoever…. who cares?
    (I traveled twice in summer and recently from Germany to UK and NOTHING was different from the normal (eGate) procedure) (PS: work-related was tested twice weekly with PCR test)

    • I wasn’t asked for my form and had no contact with/from the border force during my self-isolation perid.

      Having said that, the UK is not alone. When I arrived at LAX there wasn’t anyone checking the forms we were asked to fill in and there was absolutely no one at the customs points.

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