The Transport Secretary said business people returning to England from 4am on Saturday will not have to go into quarantine even if they have come back from a country on the Government’s ‘red list’.
Mr Shapps said the move would allow ‘more travel to support the economy and jobs’ and will be subject to strict criteria.
He also announced that ‘certain performing arts professionals, TV production staff, journalists and recently signed elite sportspersons’ will also be exempt from self-isolation from this weekend.
High-value business travellers, sports stars and performing arts professionals will be exempt from England’s quarantine requirement for international arrivals from Saturday, Grant Shapps announced this evening
Mr Shapps tweeted this evening: ‘New Business Traveller exemption: From 4am on Sat 5th Dec high-value business travellers will no longer need to self-isolate when returning to ENGLAND from a country NOT in a travel corridor, allowing more travel to support the economy and jobs. Conditions apply.’
He added: ‘From 4am on Sat 5th Dec certain performing arts professionals, TV production staff, journalists, and recently signed elite sportspersons will also be exempt, subject to specific criteria being met – guidance will be available on soon.’
The Department for Transport subsequently published details of the proposals and said people will have to ‘meet a set of required criteria’ in order to be awarded the business exemption.
The Department said that it would apply to ‘individuals undertaking specific business activity which would deliver a significant benefit to the UK economy – including activity that creates or preserves 50+ UK jobs’.
The guidance stressed that individuals ‘will only be exempt when undertaking the specific business activity and will only be able to meet with others as required by that specific activity’.
More detailed information on the business exemption is expected to be published by the Government when the changes come into effect.
The Department said the exemption for performing arts professionals and sports stars would help to ensure ‘that industries which require specific, high talent individuals who rely on international connections can continue to complete their work’.
‘PHE [Public Health England] do not anticipate these changes will raise the risk of domestic transmission, due to the protocols being put in place around these exemptions, however all exemptions will remain under review,’ the department added.
‘All travellers, including those from exempt destinations, will still be required to show a complete passenger locator form on arrival into the UK unless they fall into a small group of exemptions.’
The announcement is likely to be welcomed by the aviation industry and business community.
The move by Mr Shapps could further open up crucial travel links between the UK and the US which have been on life support for months.
The Government continues to use its ‘travel corridors’ scheme to decide which countries have to be subject to self-isolation requirements.
Travel from a ‘safe’ country on the corridor list is quarantine-free but travel from a country which is not on the list requires people to self-isolate for 14 days.
However, the self-isolation period is set to be reduced as ministers roll out a long awaited ‘test and release’ system from December 15.
That will enable travellers arriving in England to end their quarantine period with a negative coronavirus test after five days in self-isolation.
Ministers today faced fresh pressure from MPs to take a ‘real stand’ to save jobs in the hard-hit aviation industry.
Labour MPs criticised fire and rehire tactics adopted by companies during the pandemic, and insisted a sector-specific rescue deal is needed from the Government.
Transport minister Robert Courts said the Government had acted ‘extremely fast’ to introduce the test and release system to free people from quarantine earlier than currently allowed in a bid to aid the industry.