Heathrow Airport. Photo: Yolanda Sun via Unsplash
New year, new rules—the UK government has fresh COVID-19 regulations in place, from proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding to a 10-day self-isolation period on arrival. The rules are applicable for entry into the UK via flight, train, ferry, coach or any other route. Travellers will do well to check the individual rules for entry and lockdown in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Get a COVID test 72 hours prior to departure
Travellers arriving in England from 18 January 2021 and Scotland from 15 January 2021 will have to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the last 72 hours. Without this proof, travellers may not be able to board to travel, and could be fined upon arrival. Children aged 10 and under are exempt from taking the test.
Passenger Locator Form
All travellers, including UK residents, have to fill a passenger locator form before arrival in the UK. Fill it in online here. The form requires details of your passport, travel, accommodation address in the UK and the Test to Release in case you plan to end self-isolation early. You may be fined or denied entry to the UK if the passenger locator form is not filled in upto 48 hours before arrival.
Test to Release
Travellers to England can attempt shortening the mandatory 10-day self-isolation by choosing the option on the passenger locator form, and taking a private COVID-19 test from an approved provider on or after the fifth day of self-isolation. Details here. This option is not available for travellers to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Most travellers, including those from India, will have to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival.
Self-isolation includes heading straight to the accommodation upon arrival and staying at the same place for the entire duration. You are not allowed to step out for work, education or to visit public areas. Essentials like groceries or medicines are to be procured via friends, relatives or a delivery service. You may be fined for leaving the self-isolation address without reasonable excuse.
Some travellers will not have to self-isolate, provided they have spent the last 10 days in a country on the travel corridor list prior to arrivIng directly in the UK. Any days spent in a country on this list will cut down on the mandatory 10 days of self-isolation. The travel corridor list of countries differs for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Jobs exempt from certain COVID regulations
Some professionals, such as advertising production crew, journalists and sportspersons travelling to England on work, may be exempt from one or more of the COVID-related requirements given the nature of their work; see the list here.
For comprehensive travel advice from the UK government, see here.