Authorities in the UK have updated the nation’s “Travel Corridor” list. The list, which has been implemented as part of the UK’s effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), identifies the specific countries travelers from which need not self-isolate upon arrival in UK. Effective 0400 Jan. 12, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be removed as a Travel Corridor country, meaning that persons arriving in the UK from that location must self-isolate for 10 days.
Authorities in the UK have announced that all international travelers to England and Scotland will be required to present proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 before departing their country of origin; authorities are yet to confirm the start date of the new measure, but it will likely be implemented around Jan. 13. COVID-19 tests must be taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure for the UK. UK nationals returning from overseas will also be subject to this restriction. Furthermore, travelers arriving from countries not on the government’s travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival in the UK, regardless of the test result. Authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland will likely announce similar restrictions in due course.
Additionally, authorities have extended a ban on flights with South Africa until Jan. 23 due to the rapid spread of a variant strain of COVID-19 in that country. Authorities have also expanded the travel ban to include several southern African nations that have strong travel links with South Africa, namely Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Seychelles, and Mauritius. Nonresident foreign nationals will not be permitted entry into the UK if they are arriving from or, within the past 10 days, have been in or have transited South Africa or one of the aforementioned southern African nations. Exceptions will be made for British and Irish nationals, visa holders, and permanent residents, who may enter but must self-isolate for 10 days on arrival, along with the rest of their household.
More than 70 countries and overseas territories – including Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, and South Korea – are currently on the UK’s travel corridor list. Travelers arriving from listed locations are exempt from the self-isolation requirement upon arrival, provided they have not traveled to an unlisted country within the previous 10 days.
International passengers of any nationality arriving from or who, within the previous 10 days, have been in locations not on the travel corridor list must self-isolate for up to 10 days upon entry into the UK. The exact duration of self-isolation depends upon when the traveler last departed a nonexempted destination. 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 also fill out a passenger locator form providing contact details and their travel history over the previous 10 days.
Travelers arriving from or who have been in countries with elevated disease activity can reduce the required self-isolation period by taking a COVID-19 test at their own expense. Such individuals may be released from self-isolation upon receipt of a negative result. Nevertheless, travelers are not allowed to take the test until five full days have elapsed since the time they left a location not on the Travel Corridor List; test results may take up to 48 hours to return.
Senior executives, or individuals with senior managerial responsibility in a business organization, are 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 GBP 100 million (USD 134 million) from a UK-based business with at least 50 employees. Additionally, 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.
Officials review these measures weekly or in response to significant changes in disease activity abroad. 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.
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