Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Scotland and Wales, UK, update list of countries approved for travel Sept. 4 due to COVID-19 . No change in England, Northern Ireland.

Alert Begins 04 Sep 2020 10:43 AM UTC
Alert Expires 18 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions

Effective 0400 Sept. 4, authorities in Wales are requiring travelers entering from Portugal (mainland only), Gibraltar, French Polynesia, and the Greek islands of Crete, Mykonos, Zakynthos (Zante), Lesbos, Paros, and Antiparos to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival due to increases in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity in those areas. Authorities in Scotland will require travelers entering from Portugal and French Polynesia to self-isolate for 14 days effective 0400 Sept. 5; the same measure was implemented for travelers from Greece Sept. 3. Neither England nor Northern Ireland has imposed similar measures as yet, and it is unclear whether either will remove these additional areas from their own lists of quarantine-exempt countries over the coming days. Each of the UK's constituent countries has authority for imposing its own COVID-19-related travel and other restrictions, though they have typically remained closely aligned in their actions with some variations.

Although more than 70 countries and overseas territories - including Australia, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, and New Zealand - are exempt from the requirement, international passengers of any nationality arriving from nonexempt locations must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the UK; health officials may perform spot checks to ensure compliance. Persons without suitable accommodations are required to stay in facilities arranged by the government at their own expense. Freight drivers and healthcare workers are exempt from the requirement. All international travelers entering the UK must still provide contact details and their travel history over the previous 14 days. Officials review the measures every three weeks, or on a need-driven basis, in response to significant changes in disease activity abroad.

Nationwide, the UK continues gradually easing restrictions it had implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19, though tighter measures remain in force in some locations, including Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire. Most nonessential businesses around the UK have reopened; however, they must adhere to strict hygiene practices, including limits on the number of customers in stores to maintain social distancing and encourage customers to use hand sanitizer when entering the premises, among other things. International flights remain limited, but cargo and repatriation services have continued. Public transport services are operating across the country. Precise COVID-19 restrictions, such as social distancing guidelines, vary among England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Protective face coverings remain mandatory on public transport nationwide and in many enclosed public spaces. In Northern Ireland, new limitations on gatherings went into effect Aug. 24 following an increase in COVID-19 infection rates; indoor gatherings are limited to six people from two different households, while outdoor gatherings will be limited to 15 people.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice, depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Arrive at the airport early to prevent your seat from being reallocated to a standby passenger. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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