Top Executives Freed From Quarantine in England

Senior executives who have traveled to England can temporarily leave quarantine if their work is likely to bring major benefits to the U.K. economy, the government announced on Tuesday.

The exemption from isolation rules for newly arrived travelers applies to multinational executives who are visiting British branches of their firms. Critics of the decision questioned why it wasn’t also extended to smaller businesses.

Top executives of foreign companies can also be released from the quarantine requirement if they are looking to make an investment in a British business or set up a new company in the U.K, the government said.

“Many other countries have introduced similar exemptions and it’s important the U.K. public don’t lose out on prospective major investment,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman Max Blain said on Tuesday. “This is about making limited exemptions when people can prove they are looking to make significant major investments.”

The Telegraph newspaper reported last week that JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon skipped visiting England on a recent trip to Europe due to quarantine restrictions.

Under travel rules, business and leisure visitors to the U.K. from countries and territories that are rated medium or high risk for coronavirus must isolate at home or in a hotel for 10 days after arrival.

The business department said individuals will be considered to be bringing “significant economic benefit” if the work they are doing has “a greater than 50% chance of creating or preserving at least 500 U.K.-based jobs” -- either at a firm with at least 500 workers or at a new business within two years.

Smaller companies and the self-employed should have been included in the government’s plans, as they often must travel as well, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

“It is wrong to declare this activity as of no significant economic benefit,” Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs at the federation, said by email. “There should not be a fast lane of easements for big business while small firms are left behind.”

The Forum of Private Business, which lobbies on behalf of small and medium-sized enterprises, called it yet another example of an uneven playing field in the U.K.

“Things should be consistent across business, not just for the benefit of big businesses,” said Ian Cass, the group’s managing director.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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