What are the latest UK quarantine rules?

UK quarantine rules are due to change later this month. So will you still have to self-isolate? And what will happen if you’re pinged by the NHS app?

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our lives. Yet, science tells us that self-isolation can have a big impact on limiting the spread of the virus. So what are the latest UK quarantine rules? Let’s take a look.


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What are the latest UK quarantine rules?

Under UK quarantine rules you must self-isolate for 10 days if:

  • You have Covid-19 symptoms. See the NHS website for a list of possible symptoms.
  • Someone you live with has Covid-19 symptoms. If the person with symptoms receives a negative PCR test result, you can stop self-isolating.
  • You test positive for Covid-19. You may be asked to sign into the NHS Test and Trace website to share information on where you have recently visited.
  • Someone you live with tests positive for Covid-19. You can stop self-isolating if the person who tested positive receives a negative PCR test result.
  • NHS contract tracers tell you to self-isolate. Tracers may inform you that you have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive.
  • You arrive in the UK from an amber list country (and are not fully vaccinated). You’ll also have to quarantine if arriving from France before 4am on 8 August, even if fully vaccinated.
  • You arrive in the UK from a red list country. This applies to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.

You can leave self-isolation to take a test, or to post results from a home test.

It’s worth knowing that if the NHS Test and Trace service tells you to self-isolate, you may be eligible for a £500 payment. See the gov.uk website for further information.

What if the Covid-19 app tells me to isolate?

Under UK quarantine rules, if you’re ‘pinged’ by the NHS app, you’re not legally obliged to self-isolate. However, it’s recommended that you do.

The Covid-19 app has attracted a lot of negative publicity in recent weeks due to the sheer number of people it has instructed to self-isolate. The app has since been tweaked to become less sensitive so it notifies fewer people.

How are the UK quarantine rules changing?

Soon, if you’re fully vaccinated, you won’t have to self-isolate if you’ve been in close contact with someone with Covid-19. 

However, you will still have to self-isolate if the person you had close contact with is showing Covid symptoms. 

The rule change will take on on different dates, depending on where you live:

  • Wales: Saturday 7 August
  • England: Monday 9 August 
  • Scotland: Monday 16 August

Northern Ireland has not yet announced whether it will implement the change to quarantine rules. However, its government will meet on 12 August to discuss the issue.


What about essential workers?

If you’re fully vaccinated and your work is critical to the country, you can request an exemption from having to self-isolate. Sectors eligible to apply for exemption include those working in food production, in essential transport and for the emergency services. Further details can be found on the gov.uk website.

Do I have to self-isolate if arriving from a green list country?

Under UK quarantine rules, you can visit a green list country and not have to quarantine (as long as you haven’t visited, or been through, an amber or red list country within the past 10 days).

Travellers arriving in the UK from green list country must:

  • Take a Covid-19 test (children under 10 are exempt) 
  • Book and pay for Covid-19 test – you must take this on or before day 2 after your arrival
  • Complete a passenger locator form

What happens if you break UK quarantine rules?

If you don’t self-isolate when legally obliged to, you can be fined. In England, fines start at £1,000, increasing to £10,000 for repeat offenders.

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