Covid quarantine exemption for high-value business travellers and sports stars

3 December 2020, 19:54

The new policy will come into force on at 4am Saturday
The new policy will come into force on at 4am Saturday. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

High-value business travellers, sports stars and performing arts professionals will not have to quarantine on arrival in England from Saturday.

Journalists and TV production staff will also benefit from the new policy announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Mr Shapps said exemptions will be "subject to specific criteria being met". These include trips that create or preserve at least 50 UK jobs.

The announcement has been met with criticism from some opposition MPs, with Labour's Wes Streeting tweeting: "Literally one rule for them and another rule for everyone else."

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SNP MP Peter Grant added: "If you needed evidence that the British government puts the convenience of the wealthy above everything else, here they are announcing that 'high value' travellers are not a covid risk."

The Department for Transport (DfT) said people will only be exempt when undertaking specific business activity and will only be allowed to meet with others if that activity requires them to do so.

Further information will be issued once the new rules come into force at 4am on Saturday.

The DfT said sectors such as media and elite sport were also selected for exemption from quarantine as they "require specific, high-talent individuals who rely on international connections".

It added: "PHE (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."

Currently, nearly all people arriving in the UK from destinations not deemed to be at low risk of coronavirus are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: "This is a welcome first step in dismantling the quarantine system and showing that Britain is open for business again.

"There will be some big businesses that are able to take advantage of it."

No changes are being made this week to the travel corridors list, which is comprised of low risk countries from where people can return to the UK without needing to quarantine.