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​Jobs that qualify for travel exemptions: Latest Update for Overseas Nurses

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India was added to the Red List Travel Ban Countries today 23rd April 2021 at 4am. However, Some people are exempt from the red list restrictions because of the work they are doing. One of them namely, Nurses coming from or travelling through red-list countries to take up immediate NHS employment in England.

Please click on the link below to read more on the jobs that qualify for an exemption:

Quarantine arrangements for exempt nurses arriving from overseas

This guidance set out the standards required for NHS trusts to provide managed quarantine accommodation (‘hospital managed quarantine’) for internationally recruited nurses who are taking up immediate employment in the NHS in England, and who are from or travelling through red-listed countries. The exemption does not cover nurses already employed by the NHS or nurses returning from abroad for any other reason (for example, holiday or visiting family). NHS Trusts are responsible for the safe and effective quarantine of all nurses in hospital managed quarantine and must ensure they adhere to these guidelines.

Travel groups

When nurses are recruited as a cohort and travel together from and/or through red-listed countries, they may be considered as a ‘travel group’. This means they will be able to quarantine together and share facilities. Regardless of cohort sizes for flights, on arrival in the UK, travel group numbers should be minimised and be no larger than 6 individuals, as smaller group sizes reduce the risk of many nurses being delayed from starting work should a member of the travel group test positive for COVID-19. All recommended control measures (including maintaining social distancing, wearing face coverings and handwashing) will be required within a travel group throughout quarantine.


The legal exemption from hotel MQS is set out in the regulations.

It only covers nurses coming from or travelling through red-list countries to take up immediate NHS employment as a nurse in England.

Eligibility does not extend to family or dependents. If nurses are bringing children or family, the family unit as a whole will need to quarantine in an approved hotel (MQS).

The red list of countries is regularly updated – check the GOV.UK website regularly to make sure you know which countries are affected.


Following the guidance in this document, nurses also need to comply with all other guidance on managing the COVID-19 risk. Government guidance is subject to change – always refer to the latest guidance on GOV.UK.

Before arrival

Before departure the trust will need to provide the nurse with a letter setting out their eligibility for the exemption, for the benefit of Border Force officials on arrival. This letter should include the following details:

  • Full name

  • Date of birth

  • Name of employing trust and trust contact number

  • Passport number

  • Certificate of Sponsorship number

  • Date of arrival

  • Arrival airport

A template letter will be sent to Trusts to ensure the information is complete and in the same format. Border Force will ensure that the details on the letter match the Passport, Visa and Certificate of Sponsorship that the nurses will show on arrival.

It is vital that all details are accurate to ensure the nurse has no problems entering the country. Border Force may contact Trust International Recruitment leads directly to confirm planned employment and check details to mitigate fraudulent use of this exemption. Please ensure your up-to-date contact details are provided, including out of hours contact details if possible.


Nurses must be able to travel from the airport to hospital managed quarantine accommodation in COVID-19 secure private (including trust-owned) transport. Coaches or minibuses are to be used as preference to ensure easier social distancing from the driver and, where relevant, other travel groups. Private cars or taxis can be used on an exceptional basis.

Trusts may want to work together on a regional basis to plan transport for travel groups (nurses that are recruited as a cohort and travel together – no greater than 6 per group). More than one travel group may travel on the same coach as long as done so in adherence with guidance outlined below.

Nurses must go straight to meet the trust representative/driver on arrival at the airport. They must not use facilities once through immigration control.

Details of the standards required for secure travel can be found in Coronavirus (COVID-19): taxis and PHVs.

Main points are:

  • All travellers and drivers should wear face coverings, regularly clean their hands before and after every contact and maintain social distancing where possible at all times

  • Ensure good ventilation within the vehicle through open windows and no recirculated air in the vehicle

  • Ensure a three-row barrier between the driver and all separate travel groups in the same vehicle

  • Ensure on-board toilet facilities are available for longer journeys

  • Ensure that transport does not stop at any services (including at the request of passenger), unless in an emergency such as fire. Drivers must ensure adequate fuel in advance of pick-up. Where the journey is more than 4.5 hours long, the driver must take the legally required break, but nurses must remain in the vehicle

  • Ensure cleaning of the vehicle after use and drop-off

Internal flights must not be used by nurses coming from or travelling through red-list countries

Accommodation requirements

Hospital-managed accommodation for quarantining nurses must be private or trust-provided accommodation and the building must be used exclusively for quarantining. Commercial hotels must not be used. The accommodation must provide individual en-suite bathroom facilities and individual food facilities for nurses quarantining alone. Where accommodation has communal areas (bathrooms, kitchens) and provisions for travel groups (groups of no more than 6 nurses that are recruited as a cohort and travel together), the communal areas (bathrooms, kitchens) must only be used by one self-contained travel group.

Nurses in quarantine must have:

  • Access to suitable food and drink (taking into account personal, religious or social dietary requirements) either provided by the trust or using facilities provided to access this (for example, refrigerators, kettles, microwaves, hobs, ovens, cutlery and crockery)

  • An on-call provision from the trust to check on the nurses each day (this may be informal, for example via WhatAapp or regular phone calls)

  • A contact number and access to a telephone for a point of contact at the trust for the duration of the quarantine

Nurse quarantine requirements

From testing on day 2 (when the nurse takes their pre-flight test) to the end of the quarantine period, nurses must follow all control measures in place to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Nurses quarantining in hospital-managed accommodation must:

  • Travel directly to their place of quarantine and not leave until 10 days have passed (the day of arrival is counted as day 0 – the day after arrival is day 1)

  • Isolate or stay with their self-contained travel group

  • Comply with day-2 and day-8 testing (read more about testing requirements)

Nurses quarantining in hospital accommodation must not:

  • Have visitors

  • Leave the premises

  • Use any communal facilities that have not been allocated to their self-contained travel group

  • Go outside (unless an outside area has been set aside for use of one self-contained travel group)


Nurses must take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and get a negative result during the 3 days before travel to the UK (read Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing before you travel to England for more details).

Nurses quarantining in hospital accommodation must take COVID-19 PCR tests on day 2 and day 8. These are the tests ordered at the time of booking travel and are not to be provided by the trust. For more information, read Providers of day 2 and day 8 coronavirus testing for international arrivals.

Nurses must take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 of the quarantine period. The day of arrival in England is to be treated as day 0 (the day after arrival is day 1). This first test is designed to help identify any potentially harmful variants of COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity.

If a nurse gets a positive result from the day-2 test, they:

Nurses must take a COVID-19 test on or after day 8, unless they got a positive result from their day-2 test.

A positive test result from the day-8 test will mean the nurse needs to quarantine until day 19. The self-contained travel group will also need to quarantine until day 19 or even longer if anyone in that bubble tests positive during that time.

Anyone who becomes symptomatic should be able to access a PCR test for diagnostic purposes and needs to be enabled by the trust for them to access NHS Test and Trace.

Once a nurse has quarantined for 10 full days (where day 0 is the day of arrival) and received a negative result to both day-2 and day-8 tests, and are well, they may leave quarantine.

Test to release is not allowed.

Reference Link:

    • must quarantine for 10 days beginning the day after the test is taken and for the next 10 days after the test was taken (this means until day 13) – their self-contained travel group will also need to quarantine until day 13

    • should not take a test on day 8

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