England to Shorten Quarantine for Incoming Travelers

From December 15, arrivals can halve their self-isolation period if they pay for a swab test after five days.

The roofline of St. Pancras station, Eurostar’s London terminus. (Photo: David Mark/Pixabay)

The U.K. government has just announced a new “test and release” policy that will take effect soon after a month-long national lockdown is lifted on December 2. Starting on the 15th of next month, all international arrivals from countries not on England’s “travel corridor” list, including Indonesia and the Philippines, will be able to cut their mandatory quarantine period by more than half if they test negative for Covid-19 on the fifth day of self-isolation.

To sign up for the shortened quarantine arrangement, travelers must book and pay for their PCR test before the trip. These are estimated to cost anywhere between £65 (US$87) and £120 (US$161), and will be conducted by private firms approved by the government. As results are typically issued in 24 to 48 hours, eligible arrivals will be released from self-isolation six days after entering England by plane, train, or ferry.

U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new plan was aimed at bolstering international travel while keeping the public safe and avoiding unnecessary strain on the National Health Service. Shapps said, “Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones, and drive international business. By giving people the chance to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”

Currently, travelers from at least 18 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region are exempt from mandatory quarantine upon arrival in England. Those categorized as “green” or low-risk include the following jurisdictions:

Australasia: Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand

East Asia: Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan

South Asia: Maldives, Sri Lanka

Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

For more information, visit gov.uk/coronavirus.

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