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Travelling to destinations with quarantine – What you need to know

Posted on November 17, 2020 by Vicky Smith

Are you planning a trip to a destination not included on the government’s travel corridors list?

While travelling to a destination with quarantine will mean you must self-isolate on arrival back in the UK, it doesn’t mean you can’t take that trip. Unless that is, there’s a national government imposed travel ban.

The covid-19 pandemic has made travel to other countries difficult, but it certainly hasn’t slammed the door on holidays.

If you are planning a trip to a country that isn’t included on the quarantine exemption list, then you’ll need to plan ahead, accept a little disruption to your life on return and follow the latest guidance to avoid any financial penalties.

Travel update: As of 15 December people arriving in the UK from abroad will be able to reduce their quarantine time by more than half if they test negative, having paid for and had a covid test five days after arrival. Tests are said to cost between £65 – £120 with results issued between 24 and 48 hours.

What is the exemption list?

The government’s exemption, or travel corridors, list shows travellers the countries you can visit without needing to isolate on arrival back home in the UK.

For travellers looking to plan their next trip, this list is far from being written in stone, and has chopped and changed several times in the last few months.

Locations are added and removed from the exemption list based on a range of factors. These include the number of coronavirus cases within a country, information on the country’s testing capacity and potential trajectory of the disease.

For this reason holidaymakers may end up booking a trip to a non-exempt country before the country is crossed off the government’s travel corridors list.

Some travellers over the summer have found they were on their holiday abroad in destinations, such as France, when the location was axed from the exemption list without warning.

This led to some people scrambling for flights to reach home before the 14-day quarantine rule came into force.

There will of course be some travellers who are happy to book a holiday to a destination even when it isn’t on the exempt list, accepting quarantine at the end of the trip.

What should you do when travelling to a destination with quarantine rules?

Before making any booking to a destination requiring quarantine, do your research.

Check if you feel comfortable with that country’s current public health situation.

The gov.uk website provides a summary of foreign travel advice to specific countries to help you to make an informed decision.

As well as the UK government advice for travel to that country, check the country’s own visitor restrictions. You can find information on the Travel Health Pro website.

Some countries may require proof of a negative covid-19 test carried out within days of the trip before they grant you entry to the country.

There may be other requirements of you, such as testing on arrival at an airport and filling in an arrival form giving full details of where you will be staying. Check what you need to do to comply with the country’s requirements, and decide if you will be happy with this before you travel.

Travellers must also consider important practical aspects of going against the government’s foreign travel advice, such as insurance.

Most travel insurance is invalid if you travel to a country that isn’t on the travel corridors list. This means if you fall ill while abroad, you wouldn’t get help with hospital bills, or help to cover other unexpected costs like additional accommodation and travel expenses.

Cover isn’t impossible however. We offer a European FCDO Travel Advice Add-on, which means you can still get a level of cover for your trip to a non-exempt country in Europe.

This option for travellers has been highlighted by travel journalist Simon Calder, who said: “This is extraordinary.

“For the first time, a market leading travel insurer is basically saying ‘if you want to travel against Foreign Office advice, yeah we understand and we will cover you for everything apart from the issue that the Foreign Office is worried about – which is coronavirus.”

After travelling to a destination not on the exempt list you will need to follow the government’s self-isolation rules on arrival back in the UK.

All international passengers coming into the UK must complete the Public Health passenger locator form online 48 hours before their scheduled arrival.

What penalties are there for not following guidance?

Spot checks are being carried out at airports and other terminals to check passengers have completed the form. Not completing the form may result in a fine of £100.

And the fines for failing to follow the guidance increase from there.

Public Health England will carry out spot checks on people who should be self-isolating after returning from a non-exempt destination.

If you are caught breaking quarantine, you may be fined £1,000 for the first offence which can increase to £10,000 for subsequent offences. That’s a lot of extra expense on top of your holiday costs!

The guidelines are there to make sure that if you do catch coronavirus on your trip – but haven’t yet started showing symptoms – you won’t spread the virus to others back home in the UK.

It’s possible that testing will soon be carried out on arrival at airports which could cut the duration of self-isolation – great news for holidaymakers!

But for now, travellers will need to pay close attention to the latest guidance and make informed choices based on the latest information

Vicky Smith

by Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith is a journalist and freelance content creator. She loves to travel with her family. Her favourite place in the world is a sandy beach in Cornwall.