‘High-value’ business travellers to be exempt from quarantine in England

The Government now seems to think the virus can draw a distinction between the “elite” and the common plebs. 

Simon Murphy www.theguardian.com

Senior company executives are among travellers set to be exempt from Covid-19 quarantine restrictions for international arrivals in England, meaning they will not have to self-isolate for up to a fortnight.

Recently signed elite sportspeople, performing arts professionals, TV production staff and journalists will also not have to abide by quarantine restrictions if arriving from a country outside of England’s travel corridor from 4am on Saturday.

Announcing the move on Twitter, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said “high-value business travellers” would be exempt from quarantine rules in an effort to boost the economy, “subject to specific criteria being met”.

It is understood that the exemption will apply to senior company executives, such as directors or their equivalents, either returning or travelling to England who can deliver “significant” economic benefit. They will only qualify for the exemption if their work requires them to be there in person.

Currently, travellers coming from non-exempt nations have to quarantine for two weeks, but as of 15 December people will be able to pay for a private coronavirus test to reduce their isolation time to as little as five days, as long as they return a negative result. The new “test to release” regime comes after months of lobbying by the struggling airline industry.

Senior executives classed as bringing “significant” economic benefit are understood to include those whose work creates or preserves 50 or more jobs for either an existing UK-based business or a new UK business within one year of their arrival.

Shapps tweeted: “New Business Traveller exemption: From 4am on Sat 5th Dec high-value business travellers … will no longer need to self-isolate when returning to ENGLAND from a country NOT in a travel corridor, allowing more travel to support the economy and jobs. Conditions apply.”

He added: “From 4am on Sat 5th Dec certain performing arts professionals … TV production staff … journalists and recently signed elite sportspersons will also be exempt, subject to specific criteria being met.”

Giving additional detail, the Department for Transport published information on the government’s website stating that from 4am on Saturday “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.”

It added: “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.”

The DfT said Public Health England “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 would still be required to show and complete a passenger locator form when arriving, the DfT added.