Overseas business leaders will no longer need to quarantine when arriving in England if their trip is likely to be of significant economic benefit to the UK, the government has announced.
Company executives wishing to travel to England to make a “financial investment in a UK-based business” or for “establishing a new business within the UK” will be exempt but they will need written permission first.
The Department for Business said, “This exemption is designed to enable activity that creates and preserves UK jobs and investment, while taking steps to ensure public health risks are minimised.”
But the government added that business leaders will not qualify for an exemption if the activities can be carried out remotely via telephone or email, or by another person.
“Significant economic benefit” is considered to be having a greater than 50 percent chance of creating or preserving at least 500 UK-based jobs, or creating a new UK business within two years, the new guidance added.
Business leaders visiting England will need to take a COVID-19 test, take further tests on arrival, and tell the government they intend to use the exemption, before getting a letter of confirmation.
Bosses hoping to use the loophole to attend a routine board meeting will be disappointed, although a meeting to make a decision on whether to invest in a new UK division could be accepted.
When not working in England on business matters, those executives will need to continue to self-isolate, the guidance added, and must conduct meetings in a COVID-secure way.
It said, “Any individual who leaves self-isolation when required to self-isolate and who is not lawfully exempt from those requirements will be committing a criminal offence.”
Business leaders have been primarily carrying out activities remotely during much of the pandemic.
But airlines have been pushing hard for restrictions to ease because sales of business-class and first-class seats—which generate the biggest profits—have plunged as companies adopt remote working.
By Simon Neville