Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in UK to lift quarantine requirement for several countries from July 10 amid general easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

  • Alert Begins: 03 Jul 2020 10:07 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 10 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions remain

Authorities in England will lift a mandatory quarantine requirement for arrivals from more than 50 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, from July 10; the selected countries are assessed to pose a reduced threat from coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are responsible for setting their own quarantine requirements; Scotland and Wales have so far not confirmed that they will be amending their regulations, though Northern Ireland currently plans to maintain quarantine for all international arrivals other than those from Ireland. All international arrivals to the UK must provide contact details, as well as their travel history over the previous 14 days.

Since June 8, international arrivals of any nationality have been required to self-isolate for 14 days; health officials may perform spot checks to ensure compliance. Persons without suitable accommodation will be required to stay in facilities arranged by the government at their own expense. The measures apply to arrival by air, rail, and ferry. Persons arriving from Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man are exempt from the restrictions. Freight drivers and healthcare workers are also exempt. The measures are reviewed every three weeks.

Authorities introduced a lockdown in the city of Leicester from June 30 after a localized spike in infections. Residents are being urged to stay home as much as possible; nonessential stores and schools are closed. In addition, only essential travel to and from Leicester is permitted. The lockdown will last at least until July 14.

Authorities elsewhere in England will ease restrictions from July 4. The government has reduced its mandate on appropriate social distancing from 2 meters (6.5 feet) to 1 meter (3.2 feet) for people from different households under most circumstances, though it recommends that people maintain a 2-meter distance where possible. Pubs and restaurants will reopen for table service only, and hotels, places of worship, cinemas, and outdoor fitness centers will resume services so long as social-distancing requirements are met. Some businesses, including indoor fitness centers, conference facilities, and nightclubs, will remain closed. People from up to two households will now be permitted to meet inside, provided they observe social distancing. Precise COVID-19 restrictions vary between the constituent parts of the UK; the 2-meter (6.5-foot) specification will remain in force in Scotland and Wales. In addition, Scotland has lifted a restriction on traveling beyond 8 km (5 miles) from home for nonessential purposes; the restriction remains in force in some parts of Dumfries and Galloway. Pubs and cafes in Scotland will reopen for outdoor service July 6; indoor service is scheduled to resume July 15.

Many nonessential businesses around the UK have already reopened, though all must adhere to strict hygiene practices, including limits on the number of customers in stores in order to maintain social distancing and the encouragement of customers using hand sanitizer when entering the premises. Retail workers must practice social distancing wherever possible. Most educational facilities remain closed. Protective face coverings remain mandatory on public transport nationwide. Authorities continue to recommend citizens work from home where possible.

International flights remain heavily limited but cargo and repatriation services have continued. Public transport authorities nationwide are currently operating.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to specific urban centers, neighborhoods, or even specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary "self-policing" by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

The UK's Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) is a newly formed agency tasked with analyzing disease activity in England and setting the "COVID-19 Alert Level," a five-tier system that will inform the government's decisions on easing and reintroducing restrictions. The JBC can set different alert levels for different parts of the country, creating the possibility for varying restrictions based on locality in the future.

The measures implemented by the UK are similar to actions taken by other European governments in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

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.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center