COVID-19 vaccine

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Quarantine requirements revised for travel to England

Travellers flying to England will be eligible for a shorter quarantine if they test negative after the fifth day of self-isolation.

COVID-19 vaccine

Image: Pixabay

Travellers arriving in the United Kingdom are required to complete a 14-day quarantine on arrival in the country. This requirement is for both UK nationals and foreign passport-holders arriving in England from high-risk countries and countries not included in the UK’s list of travel corridors.

The UK’s 14-day quarantine requirement for all arriving passengers was implemented on 8 June. Arriving passengers are expected to self-isolate in a location where they do not pose any risk to other individuals, whether at a hotel or in the home of a friend or family member.

Spot checks for travellers in quarantine

Travellers are required to provide the address of this location to UK authorities on arrival. Spot checks may be conducted and fines are issued if individuals are found to be violating quarantine regulations.

The cost of the 14-day quarantine must be covered by the traveller.


The quarantine requirement has severely affected tourism to and from the UK. International visitors have been less keen to visit the country since they are expected to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival at their own expense.

Visit Britain, the organisation responsible for marketing the UK as a tourist destination, said the country recorded a drop of 74% in international arrivals for the year to October 2020.

Tourism from the UK has also been affected because locals have been less likely to travel abroad if facing 14-day quarantine requirements on their return to the UK.


Tourism to and from the UK has suffered tremendously since the country’s first lockdown in May. Several travel and tourist companies in the UK have been campaigning against the 14-day quarantine requirement, which they argue has added to the already challenging scenario created by the pandemic.

With the backing of more than 500 travel and tourism companies, the Quash Quarantine Campaign has been putting pressure on the government to amend the 14-day quarantine ruling.

“This will boost travel confidence and bookings, and enable quicker recovery in such a hard-hit sector,” said Paul Charles, of the PC Agency, who led the campaign.


Travellers arriving in England, from high-risk destinations, will still be required to self-isolate under the revised quarantine requirements. On the fifth day, however, they can opt to take a COVID-19 test. If their test result is negative, they are released from quarantine.

Travellers will be required to book and pay for a COVID-19 test from a private provider on the government’s list of approved test providers. The test costs between £65 and £120 (R1,314 to R2,425) and must be paid for by the traveller.

“This is certainly a positive step forward and I think it will help boost consumer confidence, knowing they can book flights for holidays and have a substantially reduced quarantine period versus previously,” Jonathan Pollard, chief commercial officer at Gatwick Airport, said in an interview with CNBC.


  • The updated quarantine requirements come into effect from 15 December.
  • Travellers can opt to take a COVID-19 test on the fifth day of quarantine. This must be communicated to authorities when arriving in the country.  
  • The cost of the test is to be covered by the traveller and the COVID-19 test must be conducted by a private provider, not by the public health system.
  • A list of accredited private testing facilities is available at
  • Test results usually take up to 48 hours to be processed. If results are negative, the traveller is released from the quarantine requirement.
  • This arrangement is only applicable to travellers arriving in England from high-risk countries. Different requirements are in place for travellers arriving in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.