Throughout this epidemic, our overall approach to international travel and checks at the borders has consistently been informed by the scientific and medical advice provided by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – SAGE – and Public Health England. Their advice has been that any restrictions or measures at the borders would only have a negligible impact on the progression of the virus, given the significant reduction of numbers of people arriving into the UK.
However, as the level of infection in the UK reduces, and the Government prepares for social contact to increase, it has become increasingly important to manage the risk of transmissions being reintroduced from abroad. Therefore, in order to keep overall levels of infection down and in line with many other countries, the Government has decided to introduce a series of measures and restrictions at the UK border. This will contribute to keeping the overall number of transmissions in the UK as low as possible, and has now come into effect. These measures are as follows:
- Contact locator forms: all arrivals will be required to fill this in to provide contact and travel information so they can be contacted if they or someone they may have been in contact with develops the disease. Border Force will undertake checks at the border and may refuse entry to any non-British citizen or resident who refuses to comply with these regulations. Failure to complete the form is also punishable by a £100 fixed penalty notice.
- Self-isolation: passengers arriving in the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and could be contacted regularly throughout this period to ensure compliance. This means that they should not go to work, school, or public areas, or use public transport or taxis. They should not have visitors unless they are providing essential support. They should not go out to buy food or other essentials where they can rely on others.
- Enforcement: anyone failing to comply may face enforcement action. A breach of self-isolation would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England or potential prosecution and an unlimited fine. The level of the fine could increase if the risk of infection from abroad increases.
- Spot checks: anyone failing to comply will face enforcement action. A breach of self-isolation would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England or potential prosecution and an unlimited fine. The level of the fine could increase if the risk of infection from abroad increases. Public health authorities will conduct random checks in England to ensure compliance with self-isolation requirements.
In the meantime, the Government continues to support businesses in the aviation and tourism sectors through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world. We have always recognised that the measures we’ve taken to limit the spread of Covid-19 will have a substantial impact on our economy, including sectors like tourism, but that was essential to protect our NHS and save lives. These measures will be regularly reviewed and we’re working with the aviation sector on a restart programme, to allow international travel to resume as soon as it is safe