Quarantine: What do the new UK travel guidelines mean for my vacation?


The Prime Minister said that most airline passengers flying to the United Kingdom will soon have to isolate themselves upon arrival.

After a week of leaks and information about arrivals in the UK, Boris Johnson has confirmed that airline passengers landing abroad will soon be quarantined.

He gave no further details on the policy, such as when it will start, how it will work, and an “exit strategy” from quarantine. More details are expected in the government’s 50-page guide to changing the coronavirus rules.

But the prospect of quarantine makes the vacation plans of millions of people even more uncertain, while causing serious problems for airlines and travel agencies.

While vacationers and the travel industry are waiting to find out exactly what the government is planning, The independent gathered the available evidence to provide answers to key questions.

Quarantine: what do we know?

From a date yet to be revealed, probably towards the end of May, almost all people arriving from abroad at a British airport will be informed that they must self-isolate for two weeks under strict conditions .

There will be exemptions for travelers from the Republic of Ireland and possibly France: Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron have agreed to consult before imposing quarantine on other countries.

It is expected that the flight crew will be exempt, as will international transit passengers – the vast majority of whom will connect to Heathrow Airport.

All others will be effectively treated as if they were carrying Covid-19 and will be ordered to stay in private accommodation for 14 days. They must indicate where they intended to isolate themselves and provide their contact details.

After two weeks, if they do not develop symptoms, they will be allowed to join the general population.

It is unclear what will happen to anyone arriving without an address in the UK; very few people are likely to fall into this category, as almost the only passengers on an airplane are likely to return home.

The application has not yet been clarified. The Metropolitan Police Federation said that London officials lack the resources to verify that arriving travelers are where they say they are.

Does it really apply only to airline passengers but not to other travelers?

It was the impression that the Prime Minister gave. He said the quarantine would apply to “people who enter this country by air.” While this statement does not rule out the possibility that rail and sea passengers may be added later, if Mr. Johnson had them in mind, he would likely have said “people coming from abroad to this country”.

It therefore presents an obvious gap for anyone who wishes to avoid 14 days of isolation: arriving in a British port by ferry or cruise ship, or on Eurotunnel from Calais to Folkestone, or on Eurostar from Paris to London.

Even if the quarantine policy is extended to these modes of transport, France could remain a special case and provide a means of circumventing quarantine.

The separate agreement between the Prime Minister and President Macron states: “No quarantine measures would apply to travelers from France at this stage; all measures on both sides would be taken in a concerted and reciprocal manner. “

This potentially means that millions of British holidaymakers can expect a trip to France without needing to isolate themselves upon their return.

What does quarantine in the UK mean for my planned trip?

It adds a fifth test to pass before anyone travels abroad to meet loved ones, or on vacation or business.

1 Has the lock been relaxed enough to allow you to reach the UK airport?

2 Has the Department of Foreign Affairs lifted its warning against all foreign travel?

3 Is there an airline ready to take you?

4 Will the country of destination allow you to enter?

5 The new condition: can you tolerate self-isolation on your return?

I have a package holiday in Spain, but I cannot spend 14 days in quarantine when I return. Can I get my money back?

Passengers on flights from Spain and all other countries in the world, except Ireland and possibly France, will be subject to quarantine. Naturally, the average vacationer will not be able or willing to consider adding two weeks of rigorous self-isolation to their planned trip.

But the Package Travel Regulations, which govern most vacations, do not cover these unprecedented circumstances.

They say: “In the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occurring at the place of destination or in its immediate surroundings and which significantly affect the performance of the package or the transport of passengers to the destination, the traveler may terminate the travel contract before the start of the package without paying any termination fees. “

Unfortunately for vacationers, the law is silent on return. Travel agencies can therefore choose to organize the trip and impose normal cancellation conditions.

A workaround would be to forgo the return flight and go through France instead, for an additional fee, if that loophole remains open.

It looks hard. Would vacation companies really apply these rules?

Travel agencies certainly don’t want to force customers to choose between losing most or all of their money, or triggering mandatory quarantine.

Some may decide to cancel and remit money. If they choose this option, they will only cancel little by little. While accepting that June will be wiped out, they desperately hope that the government will remove the restriction so that they can operate in July and August.

Other companies, faced with the alternative of financial ruin, can choose to organize their trips. They could possibly adapt the flight plans to integrate a stopover at a French airport in order to benefit from a return without quarantine.

I have a flight reservation only and a villa that I paid for separately. What are my rights?

If the theft continues, you will not be entitled to a refund. However, I anticipate that many flights will be canceled as long as the quarantine remains in effect.

Airlines such as British Airways, easyJet or Ryanair can simply anchor their fleets. If this happens, you will get your plane tickets back – although if the airline breaks down as a result of quarantine measures, it will be more difficult.

The owner of the villa has the right to keep your money if the property is open for business, but you cannot get there. They can agree to a postponement. If it suits you, take it. Otherwise, you can try your travel insurance.

The same principle applies to rental cars and theme park tickets.

Will my cruise be affected?

Not if the trip ends at a British port. (The starting point is not relevant.) But passengers on fly-cruises who return to Britain by plane – from anywhere other than Ireland or, possibly, France, must isolate themselves.

When can I go back on vacation abroad without worrying about quarantine?

Nobody knows. The travel industry still hopes to be able to send large numbers of people overseas starting in August. But the rule of self-isolation is open.

The Prime Minister’s aim is “to prevent reinfection from abroad” so that the quarantine can only be lifted if there is no longer any threat from returning visitors and British citizens. This could last until the end of the year, or even later, until a more precise vaccine or tests are in place.

Can I dodge quarantine if I have a medical test showing that I don’t have Covid-19?

No. Some countries accept medical certificates as “proof” of your absence of viruses and therefore allow you to ignore quarantine. At Vienna Airport, for example, you can get a test on the spot for the equivalent of £ 166. This works both abroad (to meet the requirements of foreign governments) and when landing in Austria to circumvent the two-week self-isolation rule.

Medical certificates issued abroad will not be considered as legitimate alternatives to quarantine. This is due to a perceived potential for false negatives (i.e., you are free from coronavirus when you are not) and the fact that each time the test takes place, it is possible that ‘between that time and arrival in the UK, you picked up the virus.

There will no doubt be calls for a ‘Vienna Airport’ style arrangement in the UK; in a Twitter poll I conducted, 40% of those who said they wanted such a test to avoid quarantine said they would pay £ 100 – and another in five would be happy to pay £ 200.

What will happen to prices and availability for the British holiday?

Millions of British holidaymakers who would normally go abroad will seek stays. Prices will rise and housing will become scarce.

Already, the cheapest Center Parcs week in Woburn Forest at the end of August is over £ 2,000. Cornwall warns that it is already close to capacity.

With trains likely to be banned for most travelers, cars will be the transportation of choice.

The president of AA said to me, “Every day of the summer, after the lockdown, it may look like a congested holiday on the roads. We all know the tail increases encountered on the A303, the M5 to the southwest, the roads to the Lake District and the coast on a public holiday.

“It could become the new standard. “


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