10-day UK hotel quarantine

The latest situation for South African travellers heading to the UK has people feeling stressed and anxious to find a way around it. If you aren’t aware of it, the current rules state that people travelling from so-called ‘red list’ countries (of which South Africa is one), have a mandatory 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel with their ‘quarantine package’ (you can read more about this here: Quarantine hotel on the official GOV.UK website). 

We’ve received many enquiries from people who, understandably, don’t want to be stuck in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of GBP1750, and are looking for ways around it. Many people consider first going to a ‘green list’ country, which does not require the 10-day hotel quarantine, before going into the UK.

However, we generally advise that people proceed with great caution, for several reasons: 

  1. You cannot have been in a red-list country for minimum 10 full days prior to arriving in the UK.
    Add your travel days to get to and out of the ‘green-list’ country (usually at least a day) and you’re looking at close to 2 weeks before you get to the UK (and all the costs this entails). 
  2. Even if you come from a green-list countries, this doesn’t mean you can enter the UK and then go out and about. You will need to self-quarantine (at home or in your choice of accommodation) for 10 days after arrival in the UK. Self-quarantining people must have two Covid-19 tests (on days 2 and 8 after arrival) for which they must pay themselves.
  3. The UK government hotel quarantine package includes the two tests as well as your accommodation, transport to the hotel from your place of arrival (and back again at the end of quarantine), and 3 meals per day – so at least those costs are covered.
  4. Lastly, with things changing so rapidly these days, there’s always a chance that, while you’re in the green-list country waiting to go to the UK, that country could suddenly be declared a red-list country. Then you will still need the 10-day govt hotel quarantine anyway!

So, you may be avoiding the 10-day government-approved hotel quarantine and price but, added up, you end up spending 3-and-a-half weeks before you can do anything in the UK… with all the associated costs that may incur. 

Our advice is (and always has been) that, wherever and whenever people travel, they always make sure of the requirements and adhere strictly to them. When it comes to immigration/visas, etc., don’t try to ‘get around’ rules as this can backfire horribly (whether it is in Covid times or not). The UK is very strict and there are huge fines or even jail time for contravening the rules. With the penalties so high, it is unwise to take chances.

(Important note that this advice is intended to assist in planning only and anyone travelling must adhere to the applicable country’s requirements. Please consult with your travel agent and visa service to ensure you tick all the boxes. Note also that different countries have different requirements – for example, UAE currently has a 2-week quarantine period, not 10 days. Bear in mind that, with the rapidly-changing nature of travel today, the above can change at any time.)

Please note that British TIPS does not issue visas, nor can we assist with visa applications. Please go to www.gov.uk for your UK visa requirements. 

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