Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Coronavirus: public health measures on entry to the UK

Out-Law Guide | 08 Jun 2020 | 9:37 am | 7 min. read

New rules will apply to individuals entering or returning to the UK from 8 June until otherwise advised by the Home Office.

Regulations applicable to arrivals to England will be reviewed at least every 21 days, with the first review scheduled for 29 June 2020. Similar regulations apply in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, which will be reviewed on the same timeline. Government-issued guidance relates to the UK as a whole. The contents of this guide should therefore be treated as applying to arrivals to the UK as a whole.

Those with business visits to the UK in mind will need to consider whether such visits remain feasible after taking self-isolation requirements into account. Similarly, businesses with UK staff travelling overseas for either work or leisure should ensure that they are aware of the new requirements, and can work from home on their return.

As with all things Covid-19 related, the requirements are subject to change and those affected should always check the latest position before travelling.

What do the new rules mean?

Anyone travelling to the UK, whether a visitor or UK resident, on or after 8 June must:

Provide passenger information

Passengers will need to complete a 'passenger locator form' and be able to show this on arrival in either hard or soft copy, such as on a phone. The form must be completed in the 48 hour window before arrival.

The form will require passengers to disclose details including:

  • contact details;
  • passport/travel document numbers;
  • full journey details; and
  • address where they will be staying in the UK.

Self-isolate

Arrivals will also have to self-isolate for the first 14 days of being in the UK. That period of self-isolation must in most cases be at an address provided on the passenger locator form which must be their home, the home of a friend or family member or a hotel, hostel, B&B or other suitable place.

The regulations and related guidance expect new arrivals to travel directly to their place of self-isolation and remain there, only using public transport to do so if they have no other option. The rules around this self-isolation are strict, only permitting them to go outside of that place, other than to a private garden or similar, in very limited circumstances:

  • to travel directly to leave the UK;
  • to seek medical assistance;
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court;
  • to avoid injury or harm;
  • on compassionate grounds;
  • to move to a further place of self-isolation, which must be disclosed; or
  • in exceptional circumstances.

The rules currently applicable as to how to self-isolate should be adhered to. These can vary across the devolved nations of the UK.

Are there any exceptions to the rules?

The new rules apply to individuals of all nationalities, including British nationals.

The regulations do, however, provide certain exemptions from these requirements, some examples of which are set out in the table below. Care should be taken to check the particular exemptions available under the applicable regulations, depending upon where in the UK an individual is arriving.

Category Exempt from requirement to provide information  Exempt from self-isolation requirements
Arrivals from within the common travel area (CTA) – Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands – who have not been outside the CTA in the 14 days preceding their arrival
Yes Yes
Certain diplomatic and consular staff, representatives of foreign countries and defence personnel Yes Yes
Certain visiting forces and government contractors Yes Yes
People who live in the UK but work in another country and who travel between the UK and that country at least once a week No Yes (this exemption does not apply in Scotland)
People who live outside the UK but work in the UK and who travel between their country of residence and the UK at least once a week
No Yes (this exemption does not apply in Scotland)
Drivers of goods or public services vehicles No Yes
People transiting airside
No Yes
Certain workers engaged in essential or emergency works for Network Rail
No Yes
Certain seamen
No Yes
Certain seasonal agricultural workers
No Must self-isolate on farm but can work immediately
Certain specialist workers in production through to preservation of goods, waste management or energy generation, transmission or distribution
No Yes
Certain oil and gas workers
No Yes
Certain nuclear workers No Yes
Certain aircraft engineers and workers No Yes
Certain health and care professionals
No Yes (the exemptions in Scotland are, however, more restricted and should be checked)

 

Most of the exemptions require specific evidence to be available. Those affected should take care to review the criteria of the particular exemption on which they wish to rely. Employers may wish to provide suitable letters for employees to carry if they are required to travel to and from the UK for their work, and the nature of their work falls under one of the exemptions.

Employers planning to rely on the non-sector specific exemptions for those travelling to or from the UK on a weekly basis should take care to ensure that any relevant staff rotations fit within this if they wish to avoid the self-isolation requirements.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Various enforcement measures can be taken if someone is found to have breached the self-isolation requirement.

Breach of the regulatory requirements will be an offence and fixed penalties can apply:

  • failure to provide the required passenger locator information can attract a £100 fine (£60 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), as well as refusal of entry to the UK for non-British nationals and non-UK residents;
  • failure to self-isolate can attract a £1,000 fine (£480 in Scotland).