COVID-19: travelling overseas and quarantine

Advice for doctors planning to travel to or from countries that are considered a COVID-19 risk. 

Location: England
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Thursday 5 November 2020

Guidance for people travelling overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be fluid to respond to the continued efforts to tackle the spread of the virus.

You can read general travel advice from GOV.UK.

Everyone is required to provide their journey and contact details when they travel/return to the UK.

Individuals also travelling to a country which is not listed as an exemption will be required to quarantine for the first 14 days upon their return to the UK.

The advice is against non-essential international travel, except to countries and territories listed as exempt. The list of exempted destinations can be found on GOV.UK. 


BMA position

The BMA’s position is that in order to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK we should support quarantine measures, where there is evidence to show they are required.

Read our statement


If guidance to quarantine upon your return to the UK is issued when you are away

If you are returning from a country where quarantine measures have been introduced, you must quarantine for the first 14 days upon your return to the UK for infection control purposes.

You should, therefore contact your employer as soon as reasonably possible to discuss the possibility of working from home when you return.

If your employer suggests that alternative arrangements would not be possible and you are unable to come to mutual agreement over the arrangements for this period, then please contact the BMA for assistance in these discussions.


If you have planned to go to a location which is subject to the requirement of quarantine upon your return to the UK

Ahead of your departure, you should notify your employer that you are planning to visit an area which requires you to quarantine upon your return to the UK. This will allow you to agree in advance the arrangements for you to work from home when you return.

If it is not possible to arrange suitable alternative arrangements, then we would advise that you consider rearranging your planned trip.

If you would like support in your discussion with your employer, please contact the BMA.


If you are coming to the UK for the first time to work as an essential healthcare worker

Our advice is dependent on your individual circumstances and therefore, we would recommend you getting in touch with the BMA in advance of your departure.


Your salaried GP has been on leave in a location which requires them to quarantine upon their return

We encourage employers to explore all possible steps to allow their employees to work from home, when they return from a location that requires them to quarantine.

If this is not possible then we encourage you to discuss with your employee alternative arrangements and come to a mutual arrangement over how the quarantine period is managed.

Possible options include:

  • working from home where possible (including changing responsibilities which would allow this)
  • leave (including taking additional paid annual leave or unpaid leave)
  • making up the time at a later date.


If you live with someone who is required to quarantine as a result of them returning from a location which has a high prevalence of COVID-19

You do not need to quarantine unless the person you are living with develops any of the following symptoms in the 14 days after the day they arrive in the UK:

  • new continuous cough
  • high temperature
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

At this point the whole household will need to begin self-isolating and you should contact your employer to discussion the possibility of working from home.

If you would like support in your discussions with your employer, please contact the BMA.

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