Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update

23 March 2021

Article: 55/1201

Travel restrictions and self-isolation (quarantine) rules have been implemented across the UK since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the public.

Travellers arriving directly into Scotland from any country outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) must quarantine for ten days and have a valid Managed Quarantine Facility booked prior to their departure, unless they have an exemption. Travellers who have been in, or travelled through a red list (acute risk) country in the previous ten days, will currently be refused entry to the UK. British or Irish Nationals, and those who have residence rights in the UK, will be able to enter but must quarantine in a government approved managed quarantine hotel for ten days.

The list of countries on the red list (acute risk) is continuously being reviewed and updated based on the risk of new variants of COVID-19 being imported into the UK, and may change at short notice. Travellers should be aware that the rules vary depending on which of the UK four nation countries they arrive in, and should follow the rules both for the UK nation they will be arriving into and for their home nation. More detailed information for travellers arriving in Scotland is available on the Scottish Government website, while information is also available for entry into England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides guidance on travelling abroad, including the latest information on COVID-19 and other non-COVID-19 risks such as safety and security, entry requirements, and travel warnings. This guidance is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice.

Country specific COVID-19 risk

The fitfortravel (for the general public) and TRAVAX (for health professionals) country pages have been updated to include a COVID-19 country specific risk-rating, with every country being identified as high, moderate or low risk and each rating accompanied by appropriate travel advice. This information will be listed in the ‘Alerts’ section on each country page of fitfortravel and the 'Emerging Health Risks' section of every TRAVAX country page. This risk-rating is based on a robust public health assessment of the COVID-19 risks for travellers to each country and is regularly reviewed.

Since 18 March 2021, the COVID-19 risk to UK travellers has been increased for: 

  • Republic of Korea 
  • Saint Barthelemy 
  • Vietnam

Advice for travellers

Before planning or booking international travel, travellers should consider if their journey is essential and legally permitted. The following sources should be consulted both prior to travel and during the trip, as guidance may change at short notice: 

Information relating to travel and COVID-19 is available on the TRAVAX (for healthcare practitioners) and fitfortravel (for the public) websites.

Information on COVID-19 for the general public is available on the NHS Inform (Scotland) and the NHS.UK (rest of the UK) websites.

Information and resources on COVID-19 for health professionals is available on the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) (Scotland) and Public Health England (PHE) (rest of the UK) websites.

Source: TRAVAX, 19 March 2021