Travel corridor update, 3 December 2020

There will be no additions to or removals from the travel corridor list this week following data received from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England.

The government will continue to take decisive action if necessary, to contain the virus, including removing countries from the travel corridor list rapidly if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.

A range of factors are taken into account when deciding to remove a country from the travel corridor list, including the continued increase of coronavirus (COVID-19) within a country, the numbers of new cases, imported cases, information on a country’s testing capacity, testing regime and test positivity rate. None of these indicate the need to amend the list of travel corridors this week.

The government has also announced today (3 December 2020) a limited number of exemptions for passengers arriving into England, including for business travellers who meet a set of required criteria.

From 4am on Saturday 5 December, individuals undertaking specific business activity which would deliver a significant benefit to the UK economy – including activity that creates or preserves 50+ UK jobs – will no longer need to self-isolate when travelling or returning from non-exempt countries.

Individuals will only be exempt when undertaking the specific business activity and will only be able to meet with others as required by that specific activity. Further information will be available on gov.uk when these exemptions come into force.

Exemptions will also come into force at the same time for domestic and international performing arts professionals, TV production staff, journalists, and recently signed elite sportspersons, ensuring that industries which require specific, high talent individuals who rely on international connections can continue to complete their work.

PHE do not anticipate these changes will raise the risk of domestic transmission, due to the protocols being put in place around these exemptions, however all exemptions will remain under review.

All travellers, including those from exempt destinations, will still be required to show a complete passenger locator form on arrival into the UK unless they fall into a small group of exemptions.

COVID-19 has profoundly changed the nature of international travel. Travellers should continue to check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, given the potential for changing coronavirus infection rates to affect both the advice about travelling to other countries and rules about self-isolation on return.

Penalties for those breaching the self-isolation rules when returning from non-exempt countries have increased from £1,000 for first offences up to £10,000 for subsequent offences, mirroring penalties for those breaching self-isolation following a positive COVID test or contact from Test and Trace.

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