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Can I Apply for an Exemption from Managed Quarantine in the UK During The COVID-19 Pandemic?

Over the past 18 months, COVID-19 has thrown many things ‘into the air’, not least in the field of immigration. Normal visa application processes and procedures that were possible pre-COVID-19 have been impacted during the pandemic; for example, some people were unable to attend UKVCAS centres to have their biometrics taken. As a result of the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s Home Office put in place some exemptions for migrants and those entering the UK. In this article, we will explain whether it is possible to request an exemption from managed quarantine as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, for what reasons, and how to apply.

Exemption to the requirement to stay in a managed quarantine hotel

Under the current border and immigration rules, those arriving who have been in a red-listed country in the ten days prior are required to quarantine for ten days in a managed quarantine hotel (this does not apply to those who are British or Irish nationals and those with residence rights in the UK). Managed quarantine hotels have to be booked in advance of arrival in the UK (as capacity is limited), or else a fine of £4,000 may be levied. The current cost of a managed quarantine hotel is as follows:

  • One adult in 1 room for ten days (11 nights) £2,285
  • Additional rate for one adult (or child over 11) £1,430
  • Additional rate for a child aged 5 to £11325

Some people are eligible for an exemption to the requirement to stay in a managed quarantine hotel, including:

Where it is not possible for a parent, guardian, or appropriate adult to join a child in managed quarantine

This applies where a child is travelling from a red-listed country to the UK on their own. In this situation, the Home Office advises that an application for exemption should be sent to at least 14 days before the planned arrival date of the child in the UK. The Home Office states, “If an exemption is granted, the child will be expected to quarantine at their final destination for the full quarantine period. They will also be required to take polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests booked through Corporate Travel Management (CTM) on day two and day 8. The entire household must isolate with the child for the full quarantine period - for more details, see the separate guidance for people allowed to quarantine at home after entering England from a red list country”.

Where a person is travelling for work and their role is on the list of exempt jobs

Another qualification criteria for gaining an exemption against the need to stay in a managed quarantine hotel is if the person entering the UK is travelling for work, and their job type means they can be exempted. The Home Office publishes a full list of the jobs that qualify for travel exemptions and the rules that apply, and the specific evidence required; this list includes (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Aircraft pilots and crew
  • BBC broadcasting transmission network and services
  • Border security duties – UK officials and contractors
  • Border security duties – non-UK officials and contractors
  • Bus and coach drivers
  • Business directors bringing significant numbers of jobs and investment to the UK
  • Channel Tunnel system workers
  • Clinical trials or studies
  • Civil aviation inspectors
  • Crown servants or government contractors
  • Data infrastructure maintenance
  • Defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors
  • Diplomatic missions and international organisations
  • Downstream oil facility workers
  • Drivers of goods vehicles
  • Electronic communications networks
  • Elite sportspersons – domestic
  • Elite sportspersons – international
  • Environment Agency relating to flood and coastal erosion risk management
  • Eurostar International workers
  • Euro tunnel workers
  • Film and high-end television production activities
  • Foreign policing
  • High Speed 2 rail workers
  • In-flight security officers

For most of these roles, it is simply impractical for a foreign worker to quarantine for ten days, especially given their often-important role in security or infrastructure.

Where a person qualifies for an exemption for medical or compassionate reasons

Another reason that you may qualify for an exemption for the requirement to quarantine as a foreign national coming to the UK is on medical or compassionate grounds. The Home Office consider each of these requests for exemption on a case-by-case basis, but reasons may include a family bereavement or the illness of an immediate family member such as a spouse or a child. This will only be granted in “extremely limited circumstances” according to the guidance “where it is not possible to accommodate a visit to a severely ill or dying relative or member of your household from within managed quarantine”. The guidance for this exemption states that an exemption will be given on medical grounds if:

  • An existing medical condition or vulnerability is severe
  • The needs of the individual cannot be met either through the provision of the managed quarantine facility or from a household member joining the individual in managed quarantine
  • The medical condition or vulnerability will worsen in managed quarantine to such a significant degree that emergency treatment may become necessary
  • Clinical evidence is supplied, providing clear evidence of existing treatment and conditions, explaining the risk to the patient

Conditions that may qualify include severe respiratory illness (whereby regular treatment is needed or oxygen/access to a nebuliser is needed), severe mental health conditions, or severe cognitive disability. To provide the proof needed, the Home Office advises, “Evidence must be supplied from the healthcare professional, applying professional clinical judgement on the basis of past treatment, and an assessment of whether it is possible for adequate care to be provided in a managed quarantine facility. This assessment includes considering whether additional medical support could be provided by telephone, or by a family member joining an individual in quarantine”.

Final words

If you believe you are eligible for an exemption from an immigration or border rule in the UK, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to confirm if you are, and if so, how to apply.

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