Finance

Need to travel for business? Here’s all you need to know about qualifying for the waiver

City executives are itching for travel to return again — and there may be a sliver of hope for them.

Business directors “bringing significant numbers of jobs and investment to the UK” are now among a special list of individuals that can be exempt from the tough restrictions around flying.

But certain criteria have to be met beforehand, according to the UK government’s 29 June update on travel exemption rules. The government set out a list of professions that don’t have to do one or more of the Covid-related restrictions depending on which country they are travelling from.

Who can qualify for the exemption?

The description of the category on the government’s website is: “Certain senior executives (board level or equivalent) travelling to England who would be more likely than not to bring significant economic benefit to the UK as a result of the exempt activity”.

Those considered to bring “significant economic benefit” must meet the following criteria: “the work they are doing has a greater than 50% chance of creating or preserving at least 500 UK-based jobs in either an existing UK-based business which has at least 500 employees or a new UK business within 2 years of the date of their arrival in the UK”.


What’s the justification?

The guidelines say senior executives are only exempt “if the business activity requires their physical presence and cannot be done remotely or by anyone who would not need to quarantine”.

The government has provided examples of what activities they consider eligible for exemption. Attending a “routine” board meeting, for example, would not qualify for the exemption; attending one where “the meeting is to take a decision on whether or not to make a new investment in a UK plant” would.

Similarly, a “routine” meeting with UK stakeholders would not qualify but a meeting “with creditors or investors to reach a decision on future funding for the UK based company which could make the difference between the UK company (which has at least 500 employees) continuing or going into insolvency” would.


Getting the exemption and testing for Covid-19

Before travelling to England, business directors must still take a test a Covid-19 test to confirm they do not have the virus as well as complete a passenger locator form.

If using the exemption, the business director must notify the government that they are doing so by completing a “Business, jobs and investment notification form“. The form asks for a number of details, including why the exemption is being used and is sent to the department for business, energy and industrial strategy.

The government will respond within five working days of the form being received, with a letter confirming that the exemption has been approved. Without confirmation that the business director meets the criteria, the exemption will not apply.

What’s next upon arrival in England?

The rules differ depending on whether the person arrived from a country listed on the green, amber or red list.

Arriving from a country on the green list, such as Singapore or New Zealand, a business director with an approved exemption will only need to take a Covid-19 test on the second day of their stay in England.

Returning from an amber list country requires quarantine for 10 days but travellers will be able to leave their accommodation when carrying out the exempt activities. Covid-19 tests will have to be done on the second and eighth day of quarantine.

If the senior executive arrives from a red list country, however, they will still have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel and take a Covid-19 test on the second and eighth day — meaning nothing has changed on that front.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Bérengère Sim

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