Quarantine rules for households explained - including if everyone has to isolate

Travelers returning from Spain are now being forced to self-isolate. (Photo: Shutterstock)Travelers returning from Spain are now being forced to self-isolate. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Travelers returning from Spain are now being forced to self-isolate. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Thousands of Brits who booked holidays abroad when lockdown restrictions were relaxed are now facing mandatory quarantine on their return home, due to a change in rules.

Several countries are also still on the government’s red list for travel, meaning travellers are recommended against all but essential travel to them. Those travelling for essential travel must self-isolate if arriving from these places.

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These are the current rules on quarantining after travel, and what you can and can’t do during this period – including contact with other people.

How do I know if I have to self-isolate?

You will have to self-isolate if you are returning from any of the countries not on the government’s “air corridor” list.

Any of the countries included on this exemption list can be removed or added at any time, so it’s important to stay up-to-date. Spain, as well as France, Malta and some other European countries, have been re-added to the list due to spikes in infections.

You can access the government’s air corridor (exempt) list here, and also sign up to receive email alerts when rules are changed.

How long should I self-isolate?

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Generally, the length of isolation should last 14 days - as this is how long it can take for coronavirus symptoms to appear.

The rules are slightly more complex, however, if you’ve travelled through more than one country where one country is not on the exemption list.

The government says that if you travel from an exempt country but have been in a non-exempt country within the last 14 days, you’ll have to self-isolate for the remainder of the 14 days since you were in the non-exempt country.

For instance, if you arrive in the UK from an exempt country, but you travelled to the exempt country 4 days ago from a country that is not exempt you will need to self-isolate for 10 days.

Where should I self isolate?

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Ideally, if you can isolate yourself alone, this is preferable.

If this isn’t possible, however, you can isolate with your household, with friends or in a hotel/other accommodation.

If staying in a household with others, try to keep your distance as much as possible, using separate bathroom facilities if available and sleeping in a well-ventilated room.

You should continue practicing excellent hygiene to prevent the risk of transmission.

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Try to avoid using public transport to get to your accommodation. If this isn’t possible, be sure to wear a mask and practice excellent hygiene while using the bus or train.

While in isolation you should not leave the house for any reason, including to go shopping or exercise. You should not have people visit you unless they are delivering essential care, such as medicine or groceries.

There are limited exemptions to this rule, including needing urgent medical assistance, funerals or emergencies.

Do the people I live with have to isolate too?

Unless they travelled with you, the other people living in your household are not required to self-isolate.

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You should, however, do your best to avoid contact with others in your household to minimise the risk of transmission.

You should avoid seeing, or inviting over, anyone from outside your household for the period of self-isolation.

What will happen if I don’t self-isolate?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you can be fined up to £1,000 for failing to self-isolate. In Scotland, the fine is £480.

You’ll be required to fill out a form upon your arrival in the UK which declares where you are staying to self-isolate. You can also be fined for failing to provide accurate information on this form.

If you break self-isolation rules, you’re putting other people’s lives at risk - sometimes without knowing, as some cases of coronavirus can be asymptomatic.