Unlike most European countries, the UK has had no border restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, but from Monday, June 8th, it has introduced a quarantine for all international arrivals.
There are still no restrictions on who can enter the country and no requirement to prove that your trip is essential, but if you are going to the UK – the country with the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe – from a European country from June 8th you may be subject to quarantine.
Here's what the rules say:
If you are travelling into the UK you will need to fill out an online form before your arrival, giving your travel details, contact details and the address where you intend to self isolate. Failure to have a filled-out form on arrival in an airport, port or Channel Tunnel terminal could net you a £100 (€112) fine.
The rules apply to everyone entering the UK, both British citizens and foreigners.
The quarantine obliges people to self-isolate at the address provided for 14 days. You are allowed to take public transport to get to your final destination, although people are asked to use private transport where possible. Masks are not currently compulsory on public transport in the UK, although they will be from June 15th.
While self-isolating you are allowed to leave the address to shop for food. You are not allowed to receive visitors, but if you are self-isolating with friends or family members, they do not need to self-isolate.
There are quite a few groups of people exempt from the restrictions and they include
- Lorry drivers and other delivery staff
- Medical professionals engaged in the battle against Covid-19
- Foreign officials travelling for work, such as the French police officers who work in British ports
- Anyone travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
- Seasonal agricultural workers
British Home Secretary Priti Patel. Photo: AFP
You can be fined £100 (€112) for not filling in the form or up to £1,000 (€1,120) for breaching self-isolation conditions, while foreign nationals who breach conditions could be deported.
However there is a fair amount of confusion on how this will actually be enforced. The British home secretary Priti Patel, when announcing the measures, said that local health officials would be in charge of enforcing it and could make spot checks, but there has been little detail revealed on how this would work in practice.
The fines will only be enforced in England, as leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to say whether and how they will enforce the rules in their jurisdictions.
How long will it go on for?
When announcing the quarantine, Patel said that it would be reviewed every three weeks, which takes us up to June 29th. The policy has been pretty unpopular domestically and is also subject to a legal challenge from airlines Easyjet, Ryanair and BA owner IAG.
Does it affect travel out of the UK?
France has announced that it will take “reciprocal measures” against any country imposing a quarantine, which means that from June 8th, all arrivals in the France from the UK will also be subject to a 14-day quarantine. However in France the measures are voluntary and will not be subject to checks or enforcement.
If you are travelling from the UK to Europe, be sure to check the border restrictions on the country you are travelling to – many European countries are still limiting travel to essential journeys only until at least June 15th.