Day Travel Quarantine Rules – How Does This Affect Businesses?

As the UK navigates coronavirus lockdown and new ways of working in isolation, new restrictions to travellers entering the country are likely to have a big impact on the way we travel. This is especially the case for business travellers. We take a look at the new rules and what this could mean for your business.

What’s happening?

The 14-day quarantine period for overseas travellers entering the UK was outlined by Boris Johnson during the 10th May daily briefing. 

Later on, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the measures would be in place from Monday 8th June.

What are the measures?

People arriving into the UK from abroad must self isolate for 14 days following their arrival, according to the measures. This includes British people returning from trips overseas. The rules are not limited to air travellers. They include all those entering via plane, train or ferry. 

If you’re arriving into the UK, you will be required to fill in a form. This includes contact information and an address where you will be self isolating for the following 14 days. This must be a private residence. If you have no accommodation arranged, the government will do this for you. 

If you refuse or fail to complete the form, you can be fined £100.  The UK Border Force has the power to refuse entry (if you are a non-UK citizen).

During the following two weeks you must stay at home, following the same self isolating protocols as those with symptoms of the virus. Health officials will conduct spot checks, and you could be fined up to £1,000 for breaking self isolation.

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Why impose these rules?

The intention behind the new restrictions is to limit contact between international travellers and other members of the public until the risk of potential virus transmission has passed. 14 days is the period of self isolation specified for those displaying symptoms of coronavirus and members of their household. 

While the UK is now past the peak of the virus, other countries are still in the early stages of the outbreak. Meaning new travellers from these regions could pose a greater risk.  

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Are there any exemptions?

Yes, the government has specified a list of those who are exempt from the 14 day quarantine. This includes medical workers, seasonal agricultural workers and those in the road haulage/shipping industries. The full list can be found on the gov.uk website. 

Those arriving from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are also exempt. 

What does this mean for businesses?

The good news is, if your business relies on receiving supplies from overseas, this is still permitted and drivers will not have to be quarantined on arrival to the UK. 

However, if you do not fall under one of the exemptions, you will be subject to the 14 day quarantine. This could mean international staff or employees returning to the UK from trips abroad being unable to work.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has already suggested that holidays outside of the UK this year might not be a possibility for many. And, if returning holiday makers need to isolate for 14 days, companies where employees cannot work remotely may be forced to restrict their holiday policies.

The Foreign Office has also warned that countries may restrict travel or close their borders at any time without notice. So, businesses should be prepared and keep track of developments in other countries, should they have business interests or employees overseas. 

Here are a few other things businesses should expect…

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Travel costs may increase

Experts predict that the end to end cost of business travel will rise as a result of the new measures and other efforts to control the virus. 

One of the solutions suggested for air travel is to free up the middle seats on planes to increase the distance between passengers. However, airlines need to fill around 75-80% of seats to make a profit. This means they may be forced to hike up ticket prices just to break even. 

The aviation industry has already been hit hard by this crisis and the effects are still ongoing. Many expect that more airlines will go under by the end of this year. As competition decreases, surviving airlines may increase their ticket prices as they won’t be battling against as many others to offer the lowest priced seats. 

 

Changing the way we fly

As airlines and airports are forced to innovate to control the spread of the virus while still allowing people to travel, it’s likely the flying experience will look very different to what we’re used to. 

You can expect to see passengers wearing face masks and a continued emphasis on social distancing. Airlines are also seeking to digitise the check in experience to minimise human interaction. This means online check ins, digital boarding passes and more self serve kiosks for hold baggage. 

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Standard testing for travellers

Some airlines have already introduced testing for passengers, with some conducting temperature checks before flights. In April, Emirates became the first airline to offer on site rapid testing, with blood tests for passengers. 

Passengers who consent to checks pre-travel could eventually be able to leave quarantine earlier, reducing possible delays. 

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Expect delays

Ultimately, with these new restrictions, businesses should expect to face unwanted delays when it comes to business travel. It may be that travelling outside the UK is no longer viable for some businesses, due to the time spent away from work in quarantine, rendering travelling for meetings largely pointless. 

For businesses with remote working capabilities, this is less of a problem of course, as employees can simply work from home. However, not all businesses have these capabilities.

Video conferencing - the new normal

Instead of spending extra time and money on overseas travel, it’s likely that businesses will turn more in favour of video conferencing software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams to conduct overseas meetings. As many are anxious to travel still, this could become the new normal for businesses for some time to come. 

Air bridges between countries

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has proposed “air bridges” between the UK and certain countries, allowing for travellers from some countries to bypass the quarantine requirements. For countries with a low R rate, this might be possible in the near future. Australia and New Zealand currently have such an agreement in place, as do several other countries.

However, currently no such agreements are in place for the UK. 

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Reactions from industry leaders

While many businesses and industry leaders have voiced support for the aim of controlling the virus, they have also expressed concern for the future of business travel in the UK. Officials at Heathrow, while in support of the government said that the 14 day quarantine “will effectively close borders temporarily”. Other experts have warned that these new measures will spell the end of business travel entirely.

We will continue to update this story as information comes in. 

If you’re concerned about how these restrictions may impact your business insurance, speak to Anchorman Insurance on 01837 55777 today. 

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