Quarantine laws: What are the rules?

Coronavirus | Published:

The new laws came into force on Monday.

Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport

Travellers arriving in the UK now have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival or risk being fined, prosecuted and even deported if they do not comply.

Here we take a look at the new rules:

– I’m travelling to the UK, what do I have to do?

Similar laws have come into force in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

According to The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020, travellers to the country are expected to fill out a form online on up to 48 hours in advance of travel, providing contact information, travel details and an address of where they plan to self-isolate once they arrive in the country.

– What happens if I don’t fill out the form?

Travellers are expected to fill out the form in advance but facilities will be provided at the border for those who have been unable to do so.


For anyone who has not filled out the form, they will be given one last opportunity as they arrive to do so.

Failure to do that will result in an offence and they could be issued with a fine.

Officials expect airlines and other carriers to check whether people have filled out forms in advance but they will not be required to turn people away from travelling if that has not happened.

The offence will occur when someone has arrived in the UK and failed to fill out the form.


Coronavirus – Mon Jun 8, 2020
Posters will be displayed at ports and airports in the UK (Home Office/PA)

Personal details cannot be used for any reason other than in conjunction with these laws.

The law also appears to suggest information provided by passengers cannot be used in criminal proceedings against them unless they relate to breaches of the quarantine regulations.

– How do I get from the airport to my accommodation?

Travellers are urged to use cars or other forms of private transport to travel from the airport when they arrive in the UK but if they must use public transport, they are advised to take the most direct route possible to their accommodation and follow guidance such as wearing face coverings.

– Where should I quarantine?

UK travellers can go back to their home and self-isolate there.

But people can also isolate in the home of a friend or relative, a hotel, hostel, bed and breakfast, or “other suitable” accommodation.

More than one address can be provided if a “legal obligation” requires a person to change addresses, or it is necessary for them to stay overnight on their arrival before “travelling directly to another address at which they will be self-isolating”.

Anyone who cannot provide a suitable address will be provided accommodation by the Government, such as a hotel.

Friends and family do not need to isolate with the people who have arrived, unless they have also travelled. But they should avoid contact with anyone they are staying with and minimise time spent in shared areas and use separate bathrooms if possible.

– What happens if I refuse to fill out the form, or self-isolate?

In England you could be fined £100 for not filling out the form, doubling for each offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

In the rest of the UK fines start at £60, reduced to £30 if paid early. Repeat offences rise to a maximum of £480 in Scotland, £960 in Northern Ireland and £1,920 in Wales.

Breaching the self-isolation stipulation or committing other offences to mislead or obstruct officials in their work would result in a £1,000 fine across the country – apart from in Scotland where it is £480 – and could lead to prosecution and then a potentially unlimited fine.

Travellers could even be deported.

– How will authorities check whether I have followed the rules?

Spot checks are set to be carried out by officials, such as Border Force officers, as travellers arrive at airports and ports to make sure they have filled out the forms, according to the Home Office.

In extreme circumstances Border Force officers could refuse entry to any non-British citizen or non-British resident who has decided not to fill in the form or not take part in the self-isolation period.

The Government has also threatened to carry out spot checks around the country to make sure people are complying.

In the first instance public health authorities, using private contractors, will phone people and question them to establish whether they are self-isolating.

Coronavirus – Mon Jun 8, 2020
Guy Potter and Sarah Hartstein arrive at Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, as new quarantine measures for international arrivals come into force (Steve Parsons/PA)

If there is concern they are not complying, they could be reported to police.

There is even a risk travellers could face questions from officials as they try to leave the country again if they could not be tracked down during the self-isolation period.

– Who is exempt from the rules?

A list of exemptions has been published, including road haulage and freight workers; medical professionals travelling to help the coronavirus effort; anyone moving from within the common travel area covering Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; and seasonal agricultural workers who will self-isolate on the property where they are working.

So far no exemptions have been made for elite athletes.

– How long will the measures be in place?

The rules will be reviewed every three weeks, so will be in place until at least June 29, but could last as long as a year, when the legislation expires.

– I have a holiday booked this summer, what do I do?

Officials have said until such time as the Foreign Office lifts the advice against all but essential travel, holidaymakers should take that into account and bear in mind implications for their trip and any conditions on their holiday insurance.

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