The UK COVID-19 Quarantine That’s Finally Gone Into Effect Today

Today begins the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) new, two-week quarantine requirement for all arrivals into the country, be they visitors or residents returning home. As of now, the new measure will continue in effect for the next three weeks (through the end of June), at which time it will be reviewed again to determine if it remains “effective and necessary.”

This latest U.K. government travel policy is, of course, aimed at preventing further spread of the COVID-19 virus, but has drawn much criticism because of its late timing relative to similar policies already enacted in Europe and the world over.

Many argue that it will do no good at this stage in the pandemic, and will cause far more harm to the nation’s economy than any potential benefits it might offer health-wise.

Harper’s Bazaar revealed some details of the U.K.’s new quarantine policy, including that it applies to travelers arriving via any transportation method: flight, train, bus or ferry. Arrivals will be required to self-isolate in their residence or accommodations for fourteen days or the length of their stay, whichever is shorter. Inbound travelers will need to complete a ‘public health passenger locator form,’ which records the travelers’ journey and contact details, as well as the particulars of where they’ll be staying while in the U.K.

Arrivals are instructed to avoid using public transport unless they absolutely have no other option. Once they get to their accommodations, neither foreigners nor returning residents are allowed to attend activities like work or school, visit public areas or entertain any outside visitors. You can’t even leave the premises to walk your dog, and exercise is expressly restricted to your home or garden.

Even going shopping for food or to pick up medication is discouraged, unless you have no one who can help you and delivery is not an option. Although, there are NHS (National Health Service) Volunteer Responders who are making themselves available to help people with their shopping.

Those coming into the U.K. from what’s called the “Common Travel Area,” however, will not need to self-isolate for the fourteen-day period. This means anyone coming from:

—The Republic of Ireland

—The Channel Islands

—The Isle of Man

Other exemptions are available for those who travel to the U.K., “to maintain essential supply chains, critical national infrastructure or to contribute to crisis response or other essential government work,” according to the government website.

Medical and healthcare professionals providing essential services, as well as those arriving for pre-arranged medical treatment, are allowed to forgo quarantine. Seasonal agricultural workers are instructed to remain on the farm where they’ll be working and living for fourteen days.

Passengers who are merely in transit and don’t need to pass through border control are, of course, exempt. And, U.K. residents who usually travel overseas at least once weekly need not be subjected to self-isolation.

It’s important to note that rules do vary somewhat depending upon which part of the U.K. travelers will be staying in, England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

There are also penalties in place for those who don’t play by the rules. In England, for instance, if you fail to self-isolate as instructed, you could be slapped with a £1,000 ($1,272) fine. And, if you don’t provide an accurate contact information declaration, or update the agency when plans change, you could be fined up to £3,200 ($4,072).

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