Critical Alert

The UK to remove several Greek islands from quarantine list Oct. 10 due to decreased coronavirus disease activity.

Alert Begins 08 Oct 2020 06:53 PM UTC
Alert Expires 16 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC


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


Authorities in UK have announced that travelers from the Greek islands of Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Santorini and Zakynthos will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival beginning 0400 Oct. 10 due to decreasing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity on those islands. Nevertheless, other 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 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 fill out a passenger locator form, providing 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.

Domestically across the UK, restrictions introduced as part of efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 remain in place. Each of the UK's constituent countries has authority for imposing its own travel and other restrictions, though they have typically remained closely aligned in their actions, with some variations. Specific measures include:


  • Facemasks must be worn in enclosed public spaces.
  • Gatherings of more than six people are prohibited in all countries.
  • Individuals from more than two households are prohibited from gathering indoors in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and from more than four households in Wales.
  • England and Wales require pubs and restaurants to close by 2200; Northern Ireland requires such establishments to close by 2300.


Restrictions on social activity are tighter in areas with higher COVID-19 activity, which include parts of Greater Manchester, Leicester, Northeast England, Lancashire, Blackpool, Blackburn, Merseyside, Halton, Warrington, West Midlands, and West Yorkshire (England); Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire, and West Dunbartonshire (Scotland); Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Newport, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Torfaen, Vale of Glamorgan Caerphilly, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy, and Wrexham (Wales); and Derry City and Strabane District Council area (Northern Ireland).

Authorities in Scotland will tighten restrictions from 1800 Oct. 9 due to an increase in cases. Under the Scotland's new directive, all pubs and restaurants permitted to serve alcohol in the health board areas of Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian, Ayrshire, and Arran must close until at least Oct. 25; takeaway services may resume, and nonlicensed catering establishments are permitted to remain open until 1800 daily. In the rest of Scotland, over the same period, catering establishments may only serve food and nonalcoholic drinks indoors 0600-1800, though they may serve alcohol outdoors until 2300.

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 should encourage customers to use hand sanitizer when entering the premises. Protective facemasks remain mandatory on public transport nationwide and in many enclosed public spaces.

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.


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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