Coronavirus (COVID-19): managed isolation and testing after travel from a red list country

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 variants spreading within Northern Ireland (NI), if you have travelled to Northern Ireland directly from a country associated with variants that may be considered a higher risk, known as a red list country, you must enter managed isolation (hotel quarantine) in NI.

Red list countries

Further information on red list countries is available at: 

Sector-specific exemptions

A limited number of sector specific exemptions may apply when travelling to Northern Ireland.

If you think you meet the criteria for exemption it's important that you check the list of sector specific exemptions before you travel.

Managed isolation (hotel quarantine)

To stop the spread of potentially harmful variants into NI, more stringent measures are in place for people who have travelled from or passed through a country on the list where travel to the UK is banned (the red list) in the last 10 days before arrival.

Since Friday 16 April, everyone who arrives into Northern Ireland from a red list country must book and enter managed isolation (hotel quarantine) for 10 full days from the point of their arrival, unless they are exempt.

The day of arrival in Northern Ireland will be treated as day zero.

You will need to book and pay for a managed isolation package before you complete your passenger locator form and make your journey to NI.

The package includes the costs of transport from the port of arrival to the designated hotel, food, accommodation, security, other essential services and post-arrival testing.

How much you’ll need to pay

  • rate for one adult in one room for 10 days (11 nights) - £1,750 (additional day rate £152)
  • additional rate for one adult (or child over 12) - £650 (additional day rate £41)
  • additional rate for child aged five to 12 - £325 (additional day rate £12)

There will be an additional fee if your quarantine is extended. The additional day rate above applies if you have already stayed in quarantine for 10 days.

If you're facing significant financial hardship as a result of this charge, there will be an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking.

This is only available if you already receive income-related benefits, and you will be required to pay back your debt.

Unaccompanied children

Children arriving in Northern Ireland from a ‘red list’ country should not be travelling alone.

Arrangements should be made by the parent or guardian to travel with their child and to enter managed isolation on arrival.

If it is not possible to travel with the child, the parent, guardian or appropriate adult is expected to join their child in managed isolation on arrival.

Unaccompanied children travelling to attend boarding school may be able to quarantine at their boarding school. Guidance on this is available at this link:

Where you can arrive

If you travel directly to Northern Ireland from a red list country, you can only arrive into certain airports. Currently these are:

  • Belfast International Airport
  • Belfast City Airport
  • any military airfield or port

The main airport space, and not the general aviation locations within the Belfast airports, have been designated for 'red list' country arrivals.

All arrivals must go to the designated immigration control area within the main terminals at each of these airports.

If you're travelling directly to Northern Ireland and have a pre-existing booking to a different airport, it’s your responsibility to change it to one of the airports specified above.

Airlines will not be permitted to carry anyone who has been in a ‘red list’ country in the previous 10 days to any other airport than those specified.

If you travel back to Northern Ireland via the land border, you must make your way to the managed isolation hotel within two hours of your arrival into Northern Ireland.

Arriving and transport to a managed isolation hotel

When you arrive in Northern Ireland you will need to provide your completed passenger locator form to Border Force officers, along with your passport and negative COVID-19 test result.

You will be escorted through the airport with other passengers who need to quarantine at a managed isolation hotel.

Your managed isolation package includes transport to your quarantine hotel (and back to the airport at the end of your quarantine to reconnect to your travel plans).

If you have a car parked at the airport, you will need to extend your parking period and pay the additional charges. If you need help with this, you can ask for that once you get to your hotel.

You will need to wear a face covering at all times (unless you’re exempt).

A member of staff will make a note of where everyone is sitting on the bus, so that if someone later tests positive for coronavirus PHA’s Contact Tracing service will be able to identify who has been in close contact.

You must only travel to your managed isolation hotel by the transport specified in your quarantine package and not by public or private transport.

At the end of the quarantine period you will be transported to the airport you were collected from when you arrived in Northern Ireland.

Arriving at the managed isolation hotel

When you arrive at the managed isolation hotel you will be required to quarantine in your room for 10 full days.

The managed isolation hotel will provide your meals.

It's not possible to select a particular room at the hotel or to seek a higher standard room when you arrive.

You can quarantine with the people you travelled with and hotels will prioritise allocating larger or connecting rooms to families.

If you’re the parent or guardian of an unaccompanied child arriving in Northern Ireland, you should join your child in managed isolation.

Visitors

You cannot have visitors in managed isolation, including friends or family, unless they’re providing:

  • emergency assistance
  • care or assistance (including personal care)
  • medical assistance
  • veterinary services
  • certain critical public services

Deliveries

If you have items delivered to you during the quarantine period (such as food deliveries), they will be brought to the door of your room by the managed isolation hotel staff.

Staff will try to bring the items to you as soon as possible. However, given the need to maintain compliance with COVID guidelines, deliveries may not be able to be brought to your door immediately when they arrive at the hotel.

Services available in your hotel

The hotel will provide you with information about the services available, including food, laundry and free wifi.

The hotels selected for managed isolation are able to meet the vast majority of requirements and will be able to accommodate dietary requirements.

Medical care and prescriptions

You should bring your prescription medicines with you.

You will be able to contact your normal GP to seek medical attention, including for repeat prescriptions and/ or if you need to order a prescription.

Leaving your room

You will only be allowed to leave your room in very limited circumstances, including:

  • to travel directly to leave the Common Travel Area – you will be given instructions when leaving
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions or to participate in legal proceedings
  • to exercise, but only with special permission from security - this is not guaranteed

You will also be allowed to leave your room in exceptional circumstances, such as:

  • seeking medical assistance where this is required urgently or on the advice of a registered medical practitioner
  • to avoid injury, illness or escape a risk of harm (for example situations such as fire or flooding, or cases where domestic abuse occurs within a group quarantining together)
  • to access critical public services including social services or services provided to victims (for example critical access such as for a child to see their social worker)
  • to access veterinary services where required urgently or on the advice of a veterinary surgeon (only service animals, such as guide dogs, can accompany you to managed isolation)

Visiting dying family members and funerals

You may request permission to leave managed isolation for a limited period if a close family member or member of your household is dying.

You may also request permission to leave quarantine to attend a family funeral.

This is limited to the day of the funeral, or in exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to travel to the funeral and back within one day, it may be possible (with restrictions) to stay overnight elsewhere if you cannot stay in a nearby managed quarantine facility

You will need permission from security staff to make sure that arrangements minimise the public health risks. This will include agreeing a specific time with the hotel for returning to your room.

You should not use public transport.

If you are permitted to leave to visit a close family member or member of your household who is dying, you should:

  • wear a face covering - in some specific circumstances this may need to be a surgical-grade Type IIR face mask
  • wash your hands regularly
  • maintain distance and follow social contact rules

It is recommended that visits are limited to a single visit on one day.

You should not leave if you have tested positive for COVID-19 during your quarantine period.

If you are permitted to leave to attend the funeral of a close family member or member of your household, you should follow the guidance for attending a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes:

  • advising the funeral venue manager and other mourners in advance that you are in your quarantine period
  • taking extra care to maintain distance and follow social contact rules
  • wearing a surgical-grade Type IIR face mask to minimise any risk of viral transmission from yourself to others

If visiting a healthcare or residential setting, the healthcare or residential setting would need to be notified in advance and they should confirm they are content to the security staff in the hotel at the time of being given permission

Testing in managed isolation

Day Two test

You will need to take a COVID-19 test on or before day two of your managed isolation. The day you arrive will be treated as day zero.

Tests will be taken in your room in your quarantine hotel.

If you receive a positive result from your day two test, you must continue your quarantine period restarting the 10 days beginning the day after the test was taken.

If you’re in quarantine with people you’ve travelled with, they will also need to quarantine for 10 further days beginning the day after the test.

If you receive a positive result from your day two test, you will not be required to take any further tests because you have been confirmed with infection and will isolate through the period when you may be infectious to others.

Day Eight test

You will need to take a COVID-19 test on or after day eight, unless you received a positive result from your day two test.

If you receive a positive test result from your day eight test, you will be required to continue your quarantine period restarting the 10-day count beginning the day after the test.

If you have quarantined for 10 days and received a negative result to both your day two and day eight tests and are well, you may leave the managed isolation hotel.

Children aged under five

Children aged under five will not need to take the day two or day eight test but they and their family or carers should only leave managed isolation if they are well.

If you get symptoms

You should order a test if you develop at least one of these symptoms at any point:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed

Groups

If you’re in quarantine with people you have travelled with, they will need to quarantine when you receive a positive test for 10 full days.

In a group quarantining together this could mean:

Person A

Person A receives a positive test result on day two so must quarantine for 10 days starting from the day after they took their day two test (they do not need to take their day eight test)

Person B

As they are a close contact of Person A, Person B needs to quarantine for 10 days starting counting from the day after person A received their day two test result.

If Person B is negative on day two, they are still required to take a day eight test.

Person B then receives a positive test result on day eight so they will need to quarantine for 10 days starting from the day after they took their day eight test

Person C

As they are a close contact of Person A, Person C needs to quarantine for 10 days starting from the day after person A took their day two test.

If Person B is negative on their day two test, they are still required to take a day eight test.

Person C receives a negative day eight test result, however, as they are also a close contact of Person B, Person C will still need to quarantine for 10 days starting from the day after Person B took their day eight test.

Person C still needs to quarantine to Day 19 as they are a contact of Person B as well as of Person A.

If someone tests positive, other people in the same room should be moved into another room if there’s space available in the hotel. This is as a precaution to help reduce the risk that the other people in the room would develop COVID-19.

If you do not take the tests you may face a penalty of up to £2,000.

Leaving managed quarantine

You will be able to leave managed isolation when you have received a negative result from your day eight test and have quarantined for 10 full days from the point of arrival (the day of arrival counts as day zero).

If you get a positive result from either of your tests, you will not be able to leave managed isolation until 10 days have passed from the day after the date of the test.

If, despite a negative test on day eight, you develop new coronavirus symptoms on day nine or day 10, this would trigger a further test and extended quarantine for 10 days (see additional day rate above), if the new test is positive.

People who do not need to quarantine

A very small proportion of people arriving in Northern Ireland who have visited or passed through a ‘red list’ country will not need to quarantine in a managed isolation hotel.

See the full list of exemptions.

Penalties

If you do not comply with the managed isolation rules, you may face a penalty of up to £10,000.

If you do not arrive into Northern Ireland at one of the designated airports, you may face a penalty of up to £10,000 and will be charged for the cost of transportation to the nearest designated airport.

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