As part of ongoing efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), authorities in the UK have provided additional details and clarification on eased travel entry restrictions for certain international business travelers. Effective 0400 Dec. 5, senior executives, or individuals with senior managerial responsibility in a business organization, will be exempt from quarantine requirements. The executives, whether visiting or returning, must be engaged in specific business activities that deliver a significant benefit to the UK economy, including those that create or preserve 50 or more jobs in the UK, or purchase goods or services for at least 100 million GBP (134 million USD) from a UK based business with at least 50 employees. Senior executives, as well as aerospace engineers, data infrastructure maintenance personnel, elite athletes, journalists, IT workers, and seasonal agricultural workers, will no longer need to self-isolate upon entering the country. However, even exempted travelers must present a complete passenger locator form upon arrival.
Effective Dec. 15, authorities in the UK will allow travelers arriving from countries with elevated COVID-19 activity to reduce the required self-isolation period from 14 to five days. Travelers will be allowed to take a COVID-19 test, at their own expense, after five days of self-isolation; however, test results may take up to 48 hours to be returned.
Other international entry restrictions are currently in force. Although more than 30 countries and overseas territories - including Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, and South Korea - are exempt from the self-isolation requirement, international passengers of any nationality arriving from nonexempt locations must self-isolate for at least 14 days upon entry into the UK, except as otherwise indicated. Health officials could perform spot checks to ensure compliance. Persons without suitable accommodations are required to stay in facilities arranged by the government at their own expense. Freight drivers and healthcare workers are typically exempt from the requirement. All international travelers entering the UK must fill out a passenger locator form providing contact details and their travel history over the previous 14 days.
Officials review the measures every week or on a need-driven basis in response to significant changes in disease activity abroad. The government claims that improved COVID-19 data now allows a more targeted approach to imposing quarantine requirements on international arrivals, partly removing the necessity for national-level restrictions.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Arrive at the airport early to prevent your seat from being reallocated to a standby passenger. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.