“High value” business travellers who arrive back into England will no longer have to self-isolate if they return from a country not on the government’s travel corridor list, the transport secretary has announced.
Grant Shapps said the move will allow “more travel to support the economy and jobs” ahead of the vaccine rollout.
The new rules will apply to top bosses of foreign multinational firms visiting English branches and bosses at firms planning to invest.
In each case, the business trips must result in a deal which creates or preserves 50 jobs or leads to a £100m investment or order, according to the Department for Transport.
Travellers will have to demonstrate in an exemption letter which will be checked by Border Force that they are delivering the business benefits to the UK.
The quarantine-free exemption will also apply to certain performing arts professionals, journalists and recently-signed elite sportspersons.
No new countries were added to or removed from the travel corridor list this week.
In October, business secretary Alok Sharma yesterday said he was “sympathetic” to an exemption for top City figures who regularly fly in and out of the UK, as the government seeks to “promote global Britain” ahead of the Brexit transition period deadline on 31 December.
While business travellers may still face hurdles entering their destination, the exemption from quarantine on return opens up the possibility of increased flights between London and business hubs such as New York, Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris and beyond.
Shapps last week slashed the 14-day quarantine for travellers returning from high-risk countries to five days if they acquire a negative coronavirus test.
Recent boosts to the UK’s testing programs have ignited rumours that a travel corridor between London and New York may be on the horizon.
Today’s business exemption was recommended by the government’s global travel taskforce, which has warned that business travel will be slow to recover after the nation’s lockdown.
Business travel accounted for 22 per cent of all the UK’s 38m inbound visits last year, contributed £4.5bn to the economy.
Robert Sinclair, chief executive of London City Airport: “The government’s decision to provide a limited number of quarantine exemptions for business travellers is welcome, and this will help open up business travel and provide a much needed shot in the arm for UK Plc. “
However, Sinclair added that “more needs to be done to unlock all forms of travel again”.
“We believe the way to do this is to adopt a globally harmonised pre-departure testing regime which eliminates the need for quarantine altogether,” he said.