When will the UK lift quarantine rules for travellers from Sweden?

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When will the UK lift quarantine rules for travellers from Sweden?
We don't know the exact answer to the question in the headline, but here's some context about what we know so far. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

A number of countries have lifted travel restrictions for Swedes in recent weeks, so what's next for the UK? The Local outlines what we know at this stage.


What's the current state of play?

The UK has had a blanket quarantine requirement in place for all countries, but has brought in a series of exemptions over the summer – which it dubbed "travel corridors" – to some countries.

Those exemptions do not include Sweden.

The rules for anyone travelling to the UK from Sweden are therefore that they must self-isolate for 14 days or face a rather hefty fine. This applies to all arrivals, whether by air, sea or train, and all nationalities including British citizens who live in or have visited Sweden in the past two weeks.

You can self-isolate at an address of your choice and you can travel from your arrival point to the address where you intend to self-isolate. You will also need to complete a contact declaration form, giving details of your contacts and the address where you will stay in the UK.

You are allowed to stay with friends or family, and they do not have to self-isolate, but you should not leave your place of residence other than in an emergency (you can find more information via the regional links below). You should not have visitors over during the 14-day quarantine period, including friends and family.

Some groups are exempt, for example truck drivers, foreign officials travelling for work, airline passengers on a connecting flight, seasonal agricultural workers, people who travel between the UK and Sweden for work at least once a week, but most people travelling for holiday or ordinary family reasons will not be exempt.

The rules are generally similar throughout the UK, but England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are allowed to set their own rules, so click the links in this sentence to make sure you're aware of specific details.

If you are travelling for a shorter period than 14 days you are expected to quarantine for the length of your stay.


Cars queuing for the Euro Tunnel train. Photo: AP Photo/Olivier Matthys

What about Sweden?

The Swedish foreign ministry currently advises against all non-essential travel to the UK.

This advice is based on travel restrictions in the UK and not on the spread of the coronavirus or the risk of infection itself, so whenever the UK lifts its quarantine rules it is highly likely that Sweden will reciprocate.

How long will the quarantine last?

We hate to disappoint readers, but we don't know. Everything depends on the numbers. France, which was exempt from the quarantine, has now been added to the list again due to rising coronavirus infections.

Sweden's coronavirus infection rate has fallen sharply over the summer, although it appears to have levelled out in the past couple of weeks. Nevertheless, Denmark, which unlike Sweden is exempt from the UK's quarantine restrictions, has almost caught up with Sweden in terms of new coronavirus infections per capita.

So for now, the best we can all do is sit tight and wait and see.

"The UK government is keeping the list of countries exempted from Covid-19 border entry requirements, like self-isolation, under constant review," a spokesperson for the British Embassy in Stockholm told The Local on August 18th.

"Decisions are based on a broad set of data and the methodology used is the same for all countries. Public health remains the government's top priority. There is an ongoing and close dialogue between experts in the UK and Sweden about all aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic."


The Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Is it even possible to travel to the UK right now?

There are currently a small number of flights operating between the UK and Sweden, for example between Stockholm-London and Gothenburg-London/Manchester/Edinburgh. Travellers in southern Sweden can fly from Copenhagen Airport, and Swedes are currently able to travel freely to and through Denmark.

If you are driving to the UK, you will need to travel through a number of countries – for example Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France depending on your exact route.

It is currently possible to travel through Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands without any major restrictions (but make sure you read up on local health and safety requirements, such as face masks, before you travel).

At the time of writing, Belgium advises travellers from Sweden to quarantine and take a coronavirus test, but it is not mandatory. You don't have to fill out Belgium's passenger location form if you are only driving through the country and do not plan to stay longer than 48 hours.

France does not have any special restrictions in place for travellers from Sweden.

This article was written in response to a question from a reader of The Local. Do you have a question we can help find the answer to? You are always welcome to email our editorial team at [email protected].


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