No countries have been added to or removed from the UK’s list of travel corridors, but a new “business traveller” exemption from quarantine has been announced.
From 4am on Saturday, people in a number of categories will no longer have to self-isolate upon returning to England, even if they are travelling from a country not on the travel corridors list.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the exemptions will be ‘subject to specific criteria being met’
“High value” business travellers
Certain performing arts professionals
TV production staff
Recently signed elite sportspeople
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move will allow “more travel to support the economy and jobs” and full guidance will be issued soon.
The exemptions will be “subject to specific criteria being met”, including trips that create or preserve at least 50 UK jobs.
People will only be exempt when carrying out specific business activity and will only be allowed to meet with others as required by that, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.
The department said more information will be released once the new rules have come into effect.
According to the DfT, sectors such as the media and elite sport were also included as they “require specific, high-talent individuals who rely on international connections”.
It added: “PHE [Public Health England] do not anticipate these changes will raise the risk of domestic transmission, due to the protocols being put in place around these exemptions, however all exemptions will remain under review.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said the announcement was a “welcome first step in dismantling the quarantine system and showing that Britain is open for business again”.
“There will be some big businesses that are able to take advantage of it,” he said.
But Labour’s shadow transport secretary said the announcement showed it was “one rule for some and another rule for everyone else”.
“If this government was serious about supporting the economy and jobs it would bring forward a proper package of financial support for businesses and the self-employed and a comprehensive plan for airport testing,” he said.
“Instead we have Tory ministers announcing loopholes for those they consider ‘high-value’.”
At the moment, nearly all people arriving back in the UK from destinations not thought to be at low risk of COVID-19 have to self-isolate for 14 days.
From 15 December, travellers arriving in England will be able to end their quarantine period after five days if they test negative for the virus.
Passengers will have to pay for the tests themselves, and will need to book with one of the private providers on the government’s list.
They will cost between £65 and £120.