Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update

09 February 2021

Article: 55/0601

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. The UK Government has announced tougher border control measures in the UK for both outbound and inbound passengers, to reduce both the risk of COVID-19 transmission and decrease the risk of importing or exporting new variants.

The new measures include: 

  • Travellers wishing to depart from the UK are required to have a valid legal reason for travel. Without this, travellers may face a fine and be directed to return home. 
  • From 15 February 2021, anyone travelling into the UK will be required to quarantine in a government-approved facility for ten days. Further information on the announcement is available on the UK Government website.

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 advice 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.

In February 2021, the COVID-19 risk for UK travellers was increased in: 

  • Bahrain 
  • Cuba 
  • Malaysia
  • Saba 
  • Sint Eustatius

This list is up-to-date as of 5 February 2021. The outbreaks index on the TRAVAX (for healthcare practitioners) and the news section of the fitfortravel (for the public) websites can be consulted for further details.

The COVID-19 risk rating and travel advice from the FCDO is being kept under constant review and may change at short notice. All travellers are advised to continue following sensible precautions and consider the sources of information listed below.

Advice for travellers

Before planning or booking international travel, please check: 

COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers arriving into the UK

Travellers from international destinations, including returning UK nationals, must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The test must be undertaken a maximum of 72 hours prior to departure for the UK. Travellers will have to make arrangements in the destination country to access testing that meets the required pre-departure test standards. Failure to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, or a valid exemption, may result in boarding being denied for the journey, or a fine on arrival. This measure is in addition to the need to self-isolate on return to the UK.

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, 5 February 2021