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Is This A New Level Of Idiocy From The UK Government?

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UPDATE: I’ve now had it confirmed by three different sources from within the Test & Trace team that the information passed on to me from the Test & Trace manager mentioned in this post was completely wrong.

At various times, in the past 18 months, the UK has seen shortages of one thing or another but one thing that has never been in short supply is stupidity at the very highest levels of government. After month after month of mistakes, lies, poorly executed plans, and half-baked ideas, I thought that the government had finally reached a level where it was no longer able to surprise me with its idiocy. Sadly, I may have been wrong.


I am now fully vaccinated (as defined by the CDC and the UK government) and I have recently arrived back in England from the United States, a country that’s on England’s ‘Amber List’.

England’s rules for travelers entering the country from destinations that are on its ‘Amber List’ include the following:

  • Travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken in the 3 days before departing for the UK. This is required regardless of a traveler’s vaccination status.
  • Travelers must provide a completed ‘passenger locator form’ which confirms where a traveler will be staying in the UK and includes a declaration from the traveler that they will abide by any self-isolation, quarantine, and testing regulations set down by the UK government.
  • Travelers must self-isolate for 10 full days after their arrival in England unless they take and pass a COVID-19 test 5 full days after their arrival in England (this is the UK’s ‘test to release’ scheme)
  • Travelers must take a COVID-19 test on the second full day (“Day 2”) after their arrival in England
  • Travelers must take a COVID-19 test on the eighth full day (“Day 8”) after their arrival into England even if they have successfully passed a ‘test to release’ test on day 5.

I have no problem with any of this and I’m more than happy to follow the rules as laid down by the government – I’m currently self-isolating at home, I’ve taken my day 2 test and I plan to take a ‘test to release’ test on day 5.

The Issue

I’ve just had a call from the UK’s test and trace team who were checking up on me to make sure that I was self-isolating as required – this is a colossal waste of time as far as I can make out but it doesn’t do me any harm so I don’t really care. During the call, I may have discovered a rule that’s nothing short of idiotic.

During my conversation with the (very friendly) test and trace operator who was checking up on me, I mentioned that I may have to leave England on “day 6” of my visit (after having taken and passed a COVID-19 test on day 5 and after also having passed a separate PCR test as required by my next destination) and I asked what procedure I had to follow to let the UK government know that I wouldn’t be taking the day 8 test.

The operator admitted to not being sure what the correct protocol was and put me on hold while she checked with a manager. The reply that eventually came back wasn’t one that I was expecting.

According to a manager at the UK’s test and trace team, I am required to remain in England for a full 10 days after arriving in the country and it would be illegal for me to leave the UK before the 10 days were up. This is despite the fact that I’m fully vaccinated and despite the fact that I would only be leaving the country if I had passed a ‘test to release’ test on day 5 and a separate PCR test too.

Just in case the stupidity of that supposed rule isn’t clear, allow me to clarify what the test and trace manager effectively told the phone agent to tell me:

  • When I pass my day 5 COVID-19 test, I can join everyday life in England as the requirement to self-isolate is ended.
  • I can mingle with whomever I want to (in bars, restaurants, shops, etc…)
  • I can go wherever I want to (within the country).
  • My daily life can be as normal as is possible right now.
  • I cannot, however, leave the country before a full ten days has passed (since I arrived) because the UK government insists that I take another COVID test on day 8 and I would be breaking the law by not taking that test.

Leaving aside the fact that the manager’s interpretation of the rules/law would give the UK the right to prevent foreign nationals from returning home just because they haven’t self-isolated for a full 10 days in England, you have to wonder why the UK government would care what a person’s COVID status was on day 8 if that person was no longer in the country on that day?

I pointed out to the phone agent what her manager’s reply meant and asked her to check that they were sure that their reply to my question was correct. After a brief hold, the agent came back on the line to confirm that the manager was confident that their reply was correct.

Needless to say, I’m struggling to believe this is actually true and I’ve put in another call to the test and trace team to see if I can get confirmation from a second manager that what I’ve been told is correct. Apparently, it may take up to 48 hours to get a response so, for the time being, I’m left to believe that although I will be allowed to rejoin society after 5 full days have passed since my arrival in the country, I will be breaking UK law if I leave the country before a full 10 days have passed since I arrived in England.

Bottom Line

If what I’ve been told turns out to be true, it will be yet another level of idiocy that the UK’s lawmakers have reached. If what I’ve been told turns out not to be true, we’re faced with the issue that at least one manager at the UK’s test and trace team doesn’t know the rules but is more than happy to make them up as he/she goes along. Either way, this isn’t a good look.

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  1. Hey, their country, their rules. It doesn’t have to make sense. That said, probably best to avoid the U.K. in general. It’s just not worth it.

    • I had no intention of departing on day 6. An unexpected situation has arisen that may require me to fly out on day 6.

  2. I recently lived full time in the UK and moved back to the USA. The information is incorrect. You can depart the UK sooner than the self isolation period. Their thinking is that you are no longer their problem. Also, if you leave the country, they cannot enforce the self isolation not that it’s readily enforced-it’s actually a joke. Whilst I understand the concern in the UK, their disregard for fully vaccinated people will hit their bottom line this summer as people will holiday in the EU instead of the UK.

  3. You put yourself in this. This is what you get for playing with these idiots and their stupid edicts. Enjoy your stay

    • I agree, and I quoted that webpage when I called back. My main concern is that it’s the test and trace team that passes on details of who has broken rules to the authorities and the last thing I need is to be incorrectly reported for breaking a rule and then having to waste an incredible amount of time proving that I did nothing wrong.

  4. As an American, I take comfort in the fact that our politicians and bureaucrats have no monopoly on stupidity.

  5. I can confirm this is not true. Yes it’s a total bunch of idiots and political bollocks, but turningleftforless clarified this

  6. Not true. You are free to leave at any time. In fact you could have skipped the TTR and day 8 tests if you had an outbound ticket to show the border when you arrived. Just ignore T&T once you’ve left, their systems don’t seem to be able to delete you until the 10 days are up. If the police call you because they’ve come to do a visit and you aren’t there then tell them you aren’t in the country and you are happy to send them your boarding pass etc, I doubt they’ll want it

  7. I had a transit flight through Heathrow USA to Athens. British Airways denied my wife boarding to their Athens flight because her Covid Vaccination card was a scanned copy on her phone. She also had a paper receipt for her second vaccination. I had a paper Covid vaccination card. After a 45 minute discussion which escalated to their Director of Connections, we were told that my wife had to stay in London a get a PCR test before she could fly (forget that she already had a rapid antigen test within the prior 24 hours). And, forget that a scanned card is just as easy to forge as the card itself. Our solution: we switched to an Aegean Airlines flight leaving 2 hours later (thank you, American!). The Greek Flag Carrier had no problem accepting our credentials, scanned and all! The take-away: AVOID LRH AND BRITISH AIRWAYS!

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