Rich or famous? You may be able to skip the UK quarantine
Just last week, the U.K. came out of a second national lockdown. The British government isn't making any changes to its travel corridors list in its weekly update, but it did add a controversial new twist.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps took to Twitter to announce the news on Thursday Dec 3, and it has created quite a stir. "High-value business" travelers will be exempt from the quarantine requirement as of tomorrow even if they are returning from countries that are not on the U.K.'s travel corridor list.
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The business trips have to result in a deal that creates or preserves at least 50 jobs or leads to investments of $134 million or more. The traveler will need to provide an exemption letter that will be checked by border agents. The measure is likely to be pretty limited to C-level executives or very wealthy investors. Interestingly, however, it appears certain performing arts professionals, journalists and "recently-signed" elite sports figures are also now exempt.
Mr Shapps also said in his separate announcement on Twitter that "certain conditions apply" and that the move was to support "more travel to support the economy and jobs".
The move could also help speed up the possibility of a so-called travel corridor between London and cities like New York or Frankfurt - banking and business centers.
As of Dec. 2 and the end of lockdown, England entered a tiered system with three levels of restrictions based on the rate of infection in areas across the country. The rules for Britons living in all tiers 1, 2 and 3 do not prohibit travel abroad for non-essential reasons. In other words, holiday travel is back on the cards.
Related: What is considered essential travel vs. non-essential travel during coronavirus restrictions?
There were also no changes to the U.K.'s corridor list on a regional level, an approach which the government unveiled for the first time back in September. With it, the government can make decisions based on regions — like islands — rather than placing or removing an entire country from the list.
Last week there was great news for travelers looking to minimize their time in quarantine. With England's new Test to Release strategy, travelers entering England from destinations not on the travel corridor list can choose to cut their quarantine to five days if they take a COVID-19 test that produces a negative result.
The test will be at the cost of the traveler and must be from a government-approved private provider. The new Test to Release strategy goes into effect on Dec. 15, 2020.
Related: It’s official: You’ll now be able to test out of the U.K.'s mandatory 14-day quarantine
However, for the time being, travelers entering England from non-travel corridor countries are still expected to follow the mandatory quarantine requirements.
It’s worth noting that the travel corridors made reference to here are for those arriving in England, not the whole of the U.K. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have largely introduced their own sets of travel corridors, which can differ from that of England’s.
The government has said several times that it’s keeping its travel corridor list under review constantly. At any moment, the government could add or remove countries from its list.
Additional reporting by Clint Henderson.