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LawFlash

UK Immigration Update: Travel Corridors

July 06, 2020

Following on from our recent LawFlash on the UK’s mandatory 14-day self-isolation measures, the UK government has announced a “travel corridor” scheme, which will enable some nationals to return to England without having to self-isolate.

HOW IT WORKS

The travel corridor scheme intends to allow smoother travel between countries with a low level of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

The scheme will apply to individuals travelling via air, train, ferry, coach, or any other route unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days that does not appear on the government’s exemption list.

A number of exemptions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s global advisory against “all but essential” international travel came into effect on July 4, 2020 and from July 10, 2020, individuals will be able to travel to many countries without having to self-isolate on return to England.

At present, the countries that form part of the government’s exemption list include:

  • Andorra
  • French Polynesia
  • New Caledonia
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Germany
  • New Zealand
  • Aruba
  • Greece
  • Norway
  • Australia
  • Greenland
  • Poland
  • Austria
  • Grenada
  • Reunion
  • Bahamas
  • Guadeloupe
  • San Marino
  • Barbados
  • Hong Kong
  • Serbia
  • Belgium
  • Hungary
  • Seychelles
  • Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
  • Iceland
  • South Korea
  • Croatia
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Curacao
  • Jamaica
  • St Barthelemy
  • Cyprus
  • Japan
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Czech Republic
  • Liechtenstein
  • St Lucia
  • Denmark
  • Lithuania
  • St Pierre and Miquelon
  • Dominica
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland
  • Faroe Islands
  • Macau
  • Taiwan
  • Fiji
  • Malta
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Finland
  • Mauritius
  • Turkey
  • France
  • Monaco
  • Vatican City

 

  • Netherlands
  • Vietnam

 

Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and the 14 British Overseas Territories are also exempt from England’s 14-day self-isolation period.

The exempted countries and territories will be kept under constant review, so that if the health risks increase, self-isolation measures can be reintroduced to help stop the spread of the disease into England. Read more for the most up to date exemption list.

Upon return to the United Kingdom, most individuals will be required to complete a contact locator form no earlier than 48 hours prior to their arrival in the United Kingdom. The form requires individuals to provide their personal details, including the address where they will stay.

Of note, the United States and China are not on the list and therefore travellers from these countries will be subject to the 14-day quarantine period.

LOOKING AHEAD

When individuals are planning holidays or overseas travel, they should check the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding self-isolation measures and travel recommendations in their destination country. Individuals should also ensure that they obtain any necessary travel insurance to cover any unexpected costs.

Currently the travel corridor scheme only applies for entry into England. More information regarding travel into Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is expected in due course.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR EMPLOYERS

Although the new measures should alleviate concerns regarding employees stockpiling annual leave while holiday options are limited, employers may now find that the inverse is true and face a sudden spike in annual leave requests. Employers will have to carefully manage workforce capacity as a result. In this respect, employers should bear in mind that they can require workers to take holiday on specified dates and cancel a workers’ holiday provided they give notice to the worker. The required notice periods are:

  • double the length of the holiday if the employer requests that a worker takes holiday on a particular date(s); and
  • if the employer wants to cancel a workers’ holiday or prevent the worker taking holiday on a particular date(s), the length of the planned holiday.

With the removal of the quarantine period following travel to and from the exempted countries, employers should also consider whether there is now an increased risk of employee bringing the virus back to the workplace following increased exposure to the general public. Previously, an employee would have had to self-isolate on return to the United Kingdom following travel outside of the Common Area. Any symptoms that developed, and a subsequent positive COVID-19 test result, would have been reported to the employer prior to returning to the workplace. With the introduction of “air bridges,” this could now change if an employee contracted the virus while travelling back to the United Kingdom and, while remaining asymptomatic, returned to the office. Employers should therefore assess whether they need to remind employees of the Safer Travel Guidance to reduce any risk in this respect.

Further, employers may have to revisit travel policies that were recently updated in response to COVID-19, which mandate that employees self-isolate for 14 days on return to the United Kingdom following travel outside of the Common Area.

HOW WE CAN HELP

Morgan Lewis stands ready to assist individuals seeking to extend their visas for this temporary period. For help with this or any other immigration query related to COVID-19, please reach out to your Morgan Lewis contact or any of the lawyers below.

The Home Office is also operating a Coronavirus Immigration Helpline, which can be reached at +0800.678.1767 (Monday to Friday, 9:00 am–5:00 pm GMT) or email CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.

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CONTACTS

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

London
Matthew Howse
Jennifer Connolly
Yvette Allen