traffic sign changed priorities ahead uk travel coronavirus pandemic

With England’s 2020-21 Premier League season close to wrapping up, can American (and other) fans travel to watch UK soccer games during the pandemic?

Here’s what we know, updated as of May 7, 2021. And here is more on the effect of the pandemic on soccer in England.

What are the current restrictions regarding travel to the UK?

U.S. citizens are allowed to travel to the UK but face a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival. As of December 15, a testing strategy for international arrivals can reduce that time by half (see below). Details about what self-isolation / quarantine entails can be found here. Note that a passenger locator form must be completed online and printed prior to arriving in the UK.

Effective May 7, the UK government has implemented a traffic light system with countries rated as red, amber or green for Covid-19 and the corresponding rules you must follow to enter England. The US is currently listed as amber, which requires testing and quarantine as outlined in the next section.

Here is more information about the current UK border control process.

Do I have to be tested for Covid-19 prior to traveling to the UK?

As of January 18, 2021, you must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel to England from abroad. The requirements for the type of test and possible exemptions can be found on GOV.UK. Even if you have a negative test result, you must follow the rules for self-isolating upon your arrival. You can shorten your self-isolation period with the ‘Test to Release‘ scheme that took effect on December 15, in which you can opt to pay for a test by a private provider on day 5 after arrival and, once you have proof of a negative result, immediately finish self-isolating.

As of February 15, 2021, you must quarantine for 10 days as well as book and pay for a travel test package, which will include COVID-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of your quarantine. However, as long as you have not been in or transited through a country on the travel ban list, you can still opt-in to the Test to Release to try to shorten your self-isolation time.

Once I have completed quarantine, can I travel within the UK?

On the bus for Prenton Park.

While England is no longer under national lockdown, movement within the UK is still restricted and you are advised to minimize travel. On March 8, England initiated its four-step roadmap to reopening with restrictions being lifted on a preset schedule.
Public transportation is currently operating on a limited basis. Here are the links for commonly used services:

Can I go to soccer games?

Maybe. As part of the four-step roadmap out of lockdown, the government is currently testing the return of spectators at certain events, including the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley on April 18 at which 4,000 fans were present.

For up-to-date information on the specific plans for reopening and how that will impact your ability to attend a game at a specific club, be sure to read our Coronavirus FAQ post.

What else can I do while I’m on vacation in the UK?

This FAQ page from the UK government has a comprehensive list of what activities are allowed.

What happens if I purchase tickets to a game and then it is cancelled, postponed, etc. due to coronavirus?

If you purchased your tickets from the club or from a third party, contact them directly. If you bought from Groundhopper Guides, you’ll get a full refund as a credit toward future purchases through us, with no expiration date.

What happens when I return home from my trip?

Per the CDC, as of December 28, 2020, all air passengers arriving from the United Kingdom (U.K.) must have a negative test result, via PCR or Antigen test, no more than 72 hours before departure from the U.K. to the United States. Passengers will be required to “provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (in hard copy or electronic) to the airline,” and, “if a passenger chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.”

So, in summary, yes, you can still travel to the UK, but there are essentially no soccer games being played with spectators in attendance. Given the restrictions on travel throughout the UK and the requirements for a negative test result both prior to arrival in the UK and prior to returning to the US, you might decide it’s not worth the trouble.

Besides the specific topics covered above, Groundhopper Guides recommends that you stay up to date with the latest news via the following sites:

U.S. Embassy in the UK – Information for U.S. citizens in the UK
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs – Country Information for the UK

In addition, here are the current travel restrictions for each of the EU’s Member States:
Re-open EU Select a country and then click on the various icons within the pop-up window to get more detailed information.

Finally, here’s where you can find more information about the coronavirus:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
GOV.UK
World Health Organization

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