Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic update

23 February 2021

Article: 55/0801

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.

As of 15 February 2021, all arrivals to Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area must book and pay for managed isolation in quarantine hotels. All travellers must quarantine for at least ten days and will be tested twice for the virus, on days two and eight after arrival. These measures have been announced to reduce both the risk of COVID-19 transmission and decrease the risk of importing new variants. Guidance concerning quarantine for travellers arriving in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is also available.

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.

From 18 February, the COVID-19 risk for UK travellers was increased in: 

  • Antigua and Barbuda 
  • Barbados 
  • Finland 
  • Macao 
  • Maldives 
  • Saudi Arabia 
  • Timor-Leste (East Timor)

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, 5 February 2021