The transport secretary Grant Shapps has indicated that “high-value business travellers” will be exempt from having to self-isolate when returning to England from countries not in existing travel corridors.
From 4am tomorrow (5 December), people in a number of categories will no longer have to self-isolate upon returning to England, even if they are travelling from a country not on the travel corridors list.
As well as the yet to be defined “high-value business travellers”, certain performing arts professionals, TV production staff, journalists and recently signed elite sportspeople will not have to quarantine on their return.
Shapps said the move would allow “more travel to support the economy and jobs” and that full guidance would be issued soon, including the criteria individuals would have to meet to avoid self-isolation.
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.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) December 3, 2020
The only indication on qualifying criteria so far from the Department for Transport is that business trips must result in a deal which creates or preserves 50 jobs, or leads to a £100,000 investment or order.
Travellers will have to demonstrate they qualify with an exemption letter that shows they are delivering business benefits to the UK, which will be checked by police or Border Force.
They can only meet with others “as required by that specific activity”, according to the DfT.
Currently, anyone returning to the UK from so-called travel corridor (or low risk) destinations must self-isolate for 14 days.
This will change from 15 December, after which they can end their quarantine period after five days if they receive a negative coronavirus test.
A spokesperson for the DfT told Sky News that certain media and sports people had been included because they were “specific, high-talent individuals who rely on international connections”.
They 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.”
However, shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said the announcement was divisive, describing it as “one rule for some and another rule for everyone else”.
“If this government was serious about supporting the economy and jobs it would bring forward a proper package of financial support for businesses and the self-employed and a comprehensive plan for airport testing,” he said.
“Instead we have Tory ministers announcing loopholes for those they consider ‘high-value’.”