International travel ‘quarantine’ restrictions

Fiction:

On return to the UK from named countries from time to time, everyone must stay at home and quarantine for 14 days.

Law:

The restrictions on arriving from abroad in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are constantly changing, most notably in terms of their lists of affected countries from where people are arriving. If you have been in an affected country, the law says you have to “self-isolate” for 14 days. This means, effectively, staying at home (or with friends or in an hotel) for the duration, leaving only for exempted reasons as set out below.

The requirement is to isolate at ‘the place’.  This means any legal obligation to remain at the address you have chosen does not require you to stay in your room.  As long as you stay in the place, the rest is guidance which, as readers should know by now, is not law.

Meanwhile, perhaps as a way to make sure you keep you keep up to date with Covid-19 messaging, everyone going abroad or who is abroad will have to watch for news bulletins of when countries are added or removed from the separate lists.

At time of this post (Wednesday evening, 2nd September 2020) take, for example, Greece.

  • Greece will be on Scotland’s list of affected countries as from 04:00 on 3rd September.
  • Greece is, reportedly, being consider for adding to England’s list over the next few days.
  • Wales is, reportedly, not considering adding Greece, but only the Greek island of Zakynthos (Zante).
  • For Northern Ireland, Greece is currently not affected but most sincere apologies to the fine folk of NI since couldn’t quite work out intentions in time to post…very embarrassing) 

This presents yet another bizarre and confusing situation. If England and Wales act as is perhaps expected, by Sunday 6th September we might expect:

  • on flights back to Bristol from Zakynthos, all will be required to isolate for 14 days.
  • on flights back to Bristol from Athens, those returning to live in Wales can do so without isolating, but those on the same flight returning to stay in England or Scotland will have to isolate for 14 days.
  • on flights back to Glasgow from Greece, all will be required to isolate for 14 days*

*Tip: those who would be isolating for 14 days in England or Scotland, you could book into an hotel in Wales for a fortnight instead and go out and about through Wales. Some good deals available. 

As for the details of ‘isolation’ and reasons to escape the home, the regulations different in drafting detail. Again, this may be just to make our lives more difficult or because politicians will exercise their powers where they can. We will not cover all the detail but below may be useful if you don’t want to go straight to the regulations.

Escaping from self-isolation

Everyone should take particular note of highlighted text below, which represents a ‘get out of jail card’ to citizens for nearly all of the Coronavirus restrictions.  Illness includes mental illness. 

See below for Wales, but in England, if you are returning from being in an affected country within the last 14 days, you must not leave or be outside the premises chosen for isolation before the end of the last day isolation, except for following exempted purposes:

(a)to travel in order to leave England, provided that they do so directly,

(b)to seek medical assistance, where this is required urgently or on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, including to access services from dentists, opticians, audiologists, chiropodists, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health practitioners, including services relating to mental health,

(ba)to access veterinary services where this is required urgently or on the advice of a veterinary surgeon,

(c)to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings,

(d)to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm,

(e)on compassionate grounds, including to attend a funeral of—

(i)a member of P’s household,

(ii)a close family member, or

(iii)if no-one within paragraph (i) or (ii) are attending, a friend,

(f)to move to a different place for self-isolation specified in the Passenger Locator Form or a form equivalent to a Passenger Locator Form pursuant to an enactment in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, or

(g)in exceptional circumstances such as—

(i)to obtain basic necessities such as food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including any pets or animals in the household) where it is not possible to obtain these provisions in any other manner,

(ii)to access critical public services, including—

(aa)social services,

(bb)services provided to victims (such as victims of crime),

(iii)to move to a different place for self-isolation where it becomes impracticable to remain at the address at which they are self-isolating.

Wales Welsh Flag Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

Everyone should take particular note of highlighted text below, which represents a ‘get out of jail card’ to citizens for nearly all of the Coronavirus restrictions. Illness includes mental illness.

In Wales, if you are returning from being in an affected country within the last 14 days, you must not leave or be outside the premises chosen for isolation before the end of the last day isolation, except for following exempted purposes:

(a)to travel for the purpose of leaving Wales [for any of the following purposes] ;

(b)to obtain basic necessities (including for other persons at the premises or any pets at the premises), where it is not possible or practicable—

(i)for another person at the premises to obtain them on P’s behalf, or

(ii)to obtain them by delivery to the premises from a third party;

(c)to seek medical assistance, where this is required urgently or on the advice of a registered medical practitioner;

(d)to receive a health service provided by a registered medical practitioner, where the provision of the service was arranged before P’s arrival in the United Kingdom;

(e)to assist a person receiving a health service described in paragraph (d), or to accompany that person if P is a child for whom the person has responsibility;

(f)to access veterinary services where—

(i)they are required urgently for a pet at the premises, and

(ii)it is not possible for another person at the premises to access those services;

(g)to carry out specified activities in relation to edible horticulture, but only if P is residing at the premises in connection with those activities;

(h)to avoid illness or injury or to escape a risk of harm;

(i)to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings;

(j)to access public services (including social services or victims’ services) where—

(i)access to the service is critical to P’s well-being, and

(ii)the service cannot be provided if P remains at the premises;

 

Warning: Law and circumstances can change very quickly.  Please note the date of publication of any blog post and check for any updates on the issues addressed. In any event, we do not condone or encourage breaching the law and neither the above nor any information posted on this website constitutes legal advice. It must not be relied upon as such and specialist legal advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances. Please read our disclaimer.

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1 thought on “International travel ‘quarantine’ restrictions”

  1. This is an interesting summary. The quarantine exemptions are quite interesting too as they range from highly restrictive to incredibly broad. Exemption 26 in particular could be applied to many individuals. It’s also curious to me that once someone has an exemption, they are fully exempt from all obligations, not just while carrying out duties in their work. Of particular note to the law vs guidance issue, public guidance about seasonal agricultural workers indicates that such individuals “must self-isolate on the farm for 14 days”, but that is not backed up in the legislation that I can see. The perverse outcome of all this is that Person A, in the wrong job, cannot leave the house for a 5-minute socially-distanced walk after returning from a low risk region/situation (without relying on an exemption as above), but person B, in the correct job, can spend all day in a crowded bar having returned from an ultra high risk hotspot.

    The other exemption that is notable – and got some media attention as a loophole but not nearly enough – is 2. (3), which states that P “is not treated as departing from or transiting through a country or territory if at all times whilst in that country or territory P is kept separated from passengers who did not arrive on the same conveyance as P, and no such passengers are permitted to be taken on board the conveyance on which P leaves that country or territory”. This would allow P to remain in a non-exempt country with no quarantine requirement as long as they kept separate from locals. There is no definition of “kept separate” but one interpretation might be maintaining social distance at all times. This could be of interest to people who have isolated holiday homes in foreign countries. I assume this is intended to refer to people stopping in transit, but that is not specified in the legislation: it could equally apply to someone just visiting the country, P is treated as not departing from or transiting through.

    Not only that, it might also allow some of the vehicle to mix with locals without removing the exemption from P, depending on whether “such passengers” refers to “passengers who did not arrive on the same conveyance”, or passengers who did not keep separated from passengers who did not arrive on the same conveyance. The guidance states the latter.

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