Everything you need to know after UK nations split on quarantine

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have splintered to adopt three different policies on traveller quarantine from Portugal and some other parts of the world.

The move has left some travellers who cut short holidays and paid “extortionate” air fares to get early planes home angry, and others still abroad or preparing to jet off confused.

So Sky News has broken down the changes and what they mean.

map of united kingdom area
Image: Thursday saw the UK nations split on three different policies

What’s changing when?

In England and Northern Ireland, politicians have decided not to make any changes at the usual weekly review point which falls every Thursday at around 5pm – so travellers from Portugal to those regions need not self-isolate.

However, ministers stress updates can be made at any time because of changing COVID-19 levels and people should bear that in mind before they set off abroad.

Carcavelos beach near Lisbon
Image: Portugal is now on Scotland’s quarantine list

But changes are coming in Wales, where travellers must self-isolate for 14 days from 4am on Friday if they are coming from:

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  • Portugal – excluding the Azores and Madeira islands
  • Gibraltar
  • French Polynesia
  • Greek islands of Mykonos, Zakynthos, Lesbos, Paros, Antiparos and Crete

And in Scotland, anyone arriving after 4am on Saturday will have to quarantine if they have just come from:

  • Portugal
  • French Polynesia
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What’s the punishment if someone breaks quarantine?

Fines of varying amounts can be handed out by police, deployed to check if people are isolating as instructed.

  • Scotland – £480
  • Wales – £1,000
  • Northern Ireland – £1,000
  • England – Between £1,000 and £3,200
British one pound coins.
Image: Fines can be issued to those breaking quarantine

What happens if you land in a different UK nation to the one you live in?

It is not uncommon for people to fly to airports outside of the nation they normally live in. For example, travellers in Wales might choose to fly from Bristol, or people living in Scotland may get on a plane from Newcastle.

In that case, passengers who are heading straight home after landing should follow the rules of the nation where they live.

So someone arriving on Sunday from Portugal in Scotland but who lives in England need not isolate for two-weeks in the immediate city they land in. As long as they head straight home they do not need to self-isolate at all, as it is not required in England.

If you spend any considerable period of time in the place you’ve arrived at, then you should follow the quarantine rules of that country.

Travellers pull their suitcases as they arrive at London Stansted Airport, northeast of London on August 20, 2020 following the decision by British no-frills airline Easyjet to close its operations at the airport from August 31. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Travellers should follow the rules of the country where they usually live

Will authorities be able to track passenger information between the nations?

All people arriving at ports across the UK have to complete a “returning traveller” form with information about where they have come from, their details and what address they plan to isolate from if needed.

All that information is collated by the Home Office and then information on each nation’s residents will be shared with the national public health body.

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