From 15 February 2021 new COVID-19 hotel quarantine measures were introduced for those travelling to the UK. Different laws apply in England and Scotland. We provide an overview of the measures for travellers arriving in Scotland and England, along with the key considerations for employers. Employers should take specific advice before arranging travel to the UK at this time, as the rules are complex and change very regularly. 

What quarantine measures are now in place for those arriving in Scotland?

From 15 February 2021 individuals arriving in Scotland from:

  • any country outside the Common Travel Area; or
  • within the Common Travel Area, if they have in the preceding 10 days been in an acute risk (referred to as a 'red list') country;
  • England, who have travelled by air, and would otherwise have been required to enter hotel quarantine in England;

must quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days. 

More information on the Scottish Government's guidance on the quarantine measures can be found here and these should be consulted before travel. Individuals must also take a COVID-19 test on day 2 and 8 of their quarantine. 

There are some limited exceptions to the above rules for travellers in specific sectors or roles. Even where such exceptions apply, individuals may still be required to self-isolate when not carrying out the essential activity which is permitted by the exemption.

Before arrival travellers will also need to have complied with the pre-travel requirements.

What quarantine measures apply to those arriving in England? 

From 15 February 2021 only individuals arriving in England who have travelled from or passed through a country on the "red list" in the 10 days before travel to England must quarantine for 10 days in a government approved hotel. 

Those travelling from outside the Common Travel Area, but who haven’t visited a "red list" country in the last 10 days must quarantine for 10 days in their own accommodation. 

All individuals will need to take a COVID-19 test on days 2 and 8 of quarantine. More detail can be found here and here. As with Scotland, there are some limited exceptions to the above rules for travellers in specific sectors or roles.

The Test to Release for International Travel scheme can still be used by travellers returning to England from a non "red-list" country. This permits certain individuals to pay for a private COVID-19 test after they have been in England for 5 full days and to stop quarantine once they receive a negative result. Although individuals must also still take the two COVID-19 tests booked before departure. 

For more information on the pre-travel requirements that travellers will need to comply with before arrival click here.

How much does the hotel quarantine package cost?

In both Scotland and England, travellers will need to book and pay for managed isolation in quarantine hotels before departure. The cost for 10-day hotel quarantine is £1,750 for the first traveller in a room, £650 for an additional adult or a child over 12, and £325 for a child aged 5-12.

Businesses should factor in these costs when requiring employees to travel to the UK, as well agreeing who shall be responsible for such costs if recruiting employees from overseas.

What about individuals who transit through England on their way to Scotland?

The different quarantine approaches taken in England and Scotland do create the possibility that travellers could transit through England (by way of a connecting flight) from a country which is outside of the Common Travel Area and which is not a red list country, and continue travelling onwards to Scotland, thus avoiding the need to isolate in an approved hotel. However, such individuals entering Scotland from England must still self-isolate at home or in other 'specified premises' for 10 days.

Individuals who have arrived in Scotland by air from England and who would have been required to hotel quarantine in England, would also have to do so when arriving in Scotland. 

Individuals who do travel between Scotland and England should also check that they are permitted to undertake that journey according to the COVID-19 restrictions that are in place in each country at the time of the arrival. Please note that these restrictions regularly change.

The flight path that an individual takes will be critical to the rules that apply and their requirement to self-isolate, so individuals should take advice prior to travel to ensure they comply with the restrictions and measures in place.

What other things should employers be thinking about when it comes to business travel?

Given the current stay at home message and restrictions on all but essential travel both domestically and internationally, employers will need to carefully consider their business travel arrangements. If business travel is essential then they should check the travel advice and restrictions in place for the country the employee is travelling to, or within to ensure full compliance with the current rules in place. 

When departing from England and travelling out with the Common Travel Area individuals will need to complete a declaration form for international travel, (including those transiting through England from Scotland) unless the job they do qualified for an exemption from current travel restrictions (see more here). 

Failure to comply with the restrictions could lead to fines being imposed and if an employer did insist on employees undertaking business travel that is not in line with current government guidance, they could be in breach of their health and safety obligations and it could also result in other civil or criminal liabilities.

If you have any queries about any of the issues raised in this blog, please contact Elaine McIlroy, or a member of the Employment & Immigration team.