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Travel Guidance (26 May 2021)

Yesterday (26 May 2021) the Department of Health published FAQs about International travel, perhaps in recognition of the confusion that exists regarding what the new rules/advice, which are in place from 24 May 2021, actually mean.

There is a landing page on the Department’s website for all travel advice and guidance which then signposts you to more detailed pages on other areas. This page can be accessed here and may assist any Organisation who has employees travelling for business or trying to understand the rules applying to employees who are returning from holidays.

The same sector exemptions that were in place previously continue to apply for International travel.

Further Guidance is provided on taking a COVID-19 test before travelling to Northern Ireland. This includes what constitutes a valid test (must be done 3 days before travel) and how proof of the test can be evidenced. Details of the fines for failure and the exemptions for certain jobs is also provided.

There then follows the rules/guidance for travelling from green, amber and red list countries with the more onerous requirements for amber and red list countries.

The guidance for Travelling within the Common Travel Area (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) is also set out. Many may know that new exemptions include: work, where the individual cannot work from home and visiting family and friends. If no exemption applies, then public health advice (not a legal requirement) remains that the person should self-isolate for 10 days.

Information is also provided on the Passenger Locator Form  that can be completed any time in the 48 hours before arrival in the UK. It is a criminal offence to provide false/misleading information on the form. Notably, the information can be used to contact the person if they are identified as close contact and to ensure following quarantine rules. There is no need to complete for travel in CTA or if job means the person is exempt.

Interestingly, the FAQS make reference to the Vaccine Certification Scheme. At present, this seems to be limited to travel and not extended beyond travel purposes. This could change as the vaccination roll out extends to all eligible age groups. In relation to Certification, the FAQs state:

“Work is on-going on vaccine certification and we hope to launch the scheme in July.”

The format of the certificate (with security features) for devolved administrations was only agreed last week.  Work has started to deliver a vaccine certification scheme that will be robust with built in counterfeit prevention measures.”