Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
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.
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.
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.