Severity: Critical

Entry/Exit: UK tightens restrictions on social gatherings as of Sept. 23 due to rising COVID-19 activity. International entry restrictions in effect.

Alert Begins: 23 Sep 2020 16:08 GMT

Alert Expires: 07 Oct 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Authorities are maintaining restrictions introduced as part of efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of Sept. 23. Authorities around the country have tightened restrictions on social activity due to rising numbers of cases. Specific new measures include:

  • In England, workers are advised to work from home if possible.
  • In England, Scotland, and Wales, pubs and restaurants are required to close by 2200.
  • In Northern Ireland and Scotland, people from different households are prohibited from meeting indoors.


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. Authorities in England previously tightened restrictions on social gatherings Sept. 14 due to concerns over the accelerating transmission of COVID-19; indoor and outdoor social gatherings of more than six people from different households are prohibited. In Wales, up to four designated households can meet socially.

Restrictions on social activity are tighter in areas of higher COVID-19 activity, which include parts of Leicester, Northwest England, Northeast England, the West Midlands, and West Yorkshire (England); Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, and West Dumbartonshire (Scotland); and Wales. Residents in some areas are advised to use public transport only for essential purposes such as travelling to work or school.

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 encouraging customers to use hand sanitizer when entering the premises. Protective face coverings remain mandatory on public transport nationwide and in many enclosed public spaces.

International entry restrictions remain in effect. 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 could perform spot checks to ensure compliance. Persons without suitable accommodation 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 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.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice, depending on disease activity over the coming weeks. Government officials claim that improved COVID-19 data now allows a more targeted approach to imposing quarantine requirements on international arrivals, partly removing the necessity for national-level restrictions.

Background and Analysis
Elevated levels of COVID-19 cases prompted the Joint Biosecurity Centre to increase England's COVID-19 alert level from 3 to 4 Sept. 21, indicating that virus transmission is "high or rising exponentially". Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the new measures could last until March 2021 and has not ruled out further stringent restrictions.

Advice
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