Business travellers to England could be exempt from quarantine under government plans, reports suggest

So-called ‘tour bubbles’ for groups of tourists from higher-risk countries also reportedly under consideration

Andy Gregory
Tuesday 24 November 2020 23:39 GMT
Business travellers could be exempt from quarantine under new government plans
Business travellers could be exempt from quarantine under new government plans (AFP via Getty Images)

The government has drawn up plans that would see those travelling to England for short business trips exempt from quarantine measures by early 2021, according to reports.

A policy whereby business travellers visiting for up to three days from countries deemed higher-risk will be able to forego self-isolation is believed to have been included in a report by the Global Travel Taskforce, an advisory body chaired by the health and travel secretaries, Matt Hancock and Grant Shapps

However, these visitors would be banned from “socialising or any other non-business-related activity”, according to the report seen by The Times and the Financial Times.

The taskforce — set up to deal with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic to international travel — reportedly recommended a consultation with doctors and industry leaders to discuss the viability and theoretical implication of such a policy.

“The task force heard that business travel is expected to recover most slowly and that there is a clear need to boost confidence,” the report said, according to the FT

“An exemption for short-term business trips from the need to self-isolate on arrival would clearly have a major beneficial impact in supporting such journeys, which make an important economic contribution to the UK.”

The taskforce is also reported to be considering so-called “tour bubbles”, which would allow groups of tourists to forego quarantine provided they do not take public transport and stay together throughout their trip.

It comes a day after Mr Shapps announced something of an end to the mandatory two-week quarantine period from 15 December, at which point arrivals to England will be able to leave isolation if they book a private test and test negative after five days.

In a move the travel industry hailed as “long overdue”, visitors from countries not on the government’s travel corridor list will be able to reduce the quarantine period paying for a test from a private firm on or after day five. Results are typically issued in 24 to 48 hours.

And the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) was among those to welcome the government’s reported plans for business travellers.

“A quarantine exemption for business travel will help to re-establish connections to key markets and trade partners across the world, helping firms that depend on the UK’s connectivity and preserving industries and livelihoods,” BCC co-executive director, Claire Walker, told the FT.

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