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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

UK Government Scraps Quarantine Rules For Low Risk Countries

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The United Kingdom Government is due to end its blanket 14-day quarantine rules on July 10th. From this date, those visiting England will not have to self isolate on arrival, providing they haven’t recently been in high-risk countries. The announcement comes the same day that a group of UK airlines is due to take the UK government to the High Court over the policy.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Johannesburg
The United Kingdom today announced changes to self-isolation rules when entering England. Photo: Getty Images

The United Kingdom surprised many when it announced in late May that almost all arriving passengers would be required to self isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in the United Kingdom.

This policy was widely criticized by airlines and the travel industry. It meant that a passenger traveling from a country with a lower COVID-19 incidence rate would have to quarantine, even if they could prove they were virus-free.

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July 10th changes

The UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, today outlined plans to scrap England’s 14-day blanket quarantine rules from July 10th. Passengers arriving from a predetermined list of countries will mostly not need to self isolate on arrival in England.

easyJet coronavirus grounding
Three UK airlines have joined forces to seek a judicial review into the UK’s 14-day quarantine period, due to be heard today. Photo: Getty Images

So far, Shapps has announced that travelers from Germany, France, Spain, and Italy will be exempt from the self-isolation requirement. A full list of countries is due to be released later today.

Commenting on his announcement, Shapps said,

“Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation. Whether you are a holidaymaker ready to travel abroad or a business eager to open your doors again, this is good news for British people… we will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with.”

Good news for airlines

Today’s announcement will come as good news for airlines who have been eagerly awaiting confirmation that they can resume services. The government was initially due to review the quarantine arrangements on Monday. However, every time that an announcement was expected, the time came and went with no news.

UK government airline bailout
A full list of exempt countries will be released later today. Photo: Getty Images

Today a group of airlines, including British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair, is due to take the government to court over the policy. The changes announced today would largely address the issues being raised by the group. Given the fact that the full list hasn’t yet been revealed, it does make you wonder if the government has tried to rush the announcement through in advance of the court date.

However, whatever way you look at it, by removing the blanket ban, UK based airlines can finally begin to recover. Many European airlines have now had a 1-month head start with their recovery. However, with the threat of two weeks of isolation in place, it was not viable for UK airlines to largely resume their networks, as many flights would’ve remained empty.

What do you make of the government’s announcement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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