Confusion for travellers as government appears to change stance on quarantine rules

Travellers expected to be released from quarantine obligations at midnight today face confusion after the government appeared to change its stance on completing two weeks of self-isolation.

The controversial policy that requires arriving passengers and returning holidaymakers to stay at home for two weeks has been eased from dozens of countries.

Travellers from France, Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean nations will no longer need to self-isolate at home for two weeks after arrival in the UK.

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Spain is also exempt for people heading home to England, Wales and Northern Ireland – though not for Scottish passengers, whether they arrive direct or via another country.

A week ago the transport secretary said the change would mean people who arrived from one of the qualifying countries in the previous two weeks would be released from the need to complete the 14 days.

This concession was made clear by Grant Shapps when he was interviewed on BBC Breakfast on 3 July. He confirmed that people who had been travelling to countries on the no-quarantine list would be released from self-isolation on 10 July, saying: “From that point onward you will be legal not to quarantine yourself.”

The Foreign Office this morning confirmed that position via its Twitter account.

Mikel Andres asked the FCO: “My mother arrived the 7th and is currently doing quarantine, but there are so many contradictory information whether from today she can stop the quarantine or has to continue it.

“It’s not that hard to explain, it’s a yes or no question. And a very logical one, to be honest.”

The Foreign Office swiftly responded: “If your mother arrived in the UK from one of the exempt countries, then she can stop quarantining on the 10th July. I hope that clears things up for you.”

But the government’s official guidance is at odds with the Foreign Office stance and the transport secretary’s announcement. It says: “If you arrived back in England before 10 July 2020, you should follow the self-isolation rules that applied at the time you arrived.”

The Independent has asked for clarification for travellers who planned their trips on the basis of what Mr Shapps said to the BBC.

Another tweet from the Foreign Office suggested that the authorities will not pursue travellers, saying: “For those returning before 10 July, a common sense approach will apply and would not enforce self-quarantine after 10 July for those returning to England from exempt countries.”

The Foreign Office has also issued a warning against all travel on cruise ships, on the basis of advice from Public Health England.

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