Does the count of 14 days include the day I land? I have someplace important to be at the evening of September 23rd.

  • 2
    I can not look for the information right now but my BF who is self isolating right now said it is 14 whole days after the day you arrive, so nearer 15 day if you arrive in the morning.
    – Willeke
    Aug 24, 2020 at 8:07
  • 13
    You seem to be working on the assumption you show no symptoms during the 14 day period. That is an unsafe assumption. The 14 days is to give time for symptoms to manifest. If they do manifest then the story changes from that point. Don’t make any firm plans based on an unsafe assumption.
    – jwpfox
    Aug 25, 2020 at 8:08
  • 3
    It largely depends on whether or not you're the government (or a special adviser to it)
    – Strawberry
    Aug 25, 2020 at 10:19
  • 1
    You'd have to ask the government (not parliament)
    – Strawberry
    Aug 25, 2020 at 15:36
  • 2
    @giraffe86 can you confirm that the place you want to attend on the 23rd is in England? There is a separate law for each of the four parts of the UK.
    – bdsl
    Aug 25, 2020 at 15:57

3 Answers 3


The top answer so far quotes the guidance and not the law.

The law is The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020, and specifically Regulation 4(7)(a)

(7) P must, on their arrival in England, travel directly to the place at which they are to self-isolate, and must then self-isolate until whichever is the earlier of—

(a) the end of the 14th day after the day on which they arrive in the common travel area, or
(b) their departure from England.

The fourteenth day after your arrival is 23 September, and the Regulation means that the quarantine period is 14 full days which start when you arrive, but are counted from the midnight after you arrive. If you arrive on 9 September, the remainder of that day and the period 10–23 September is your quarantine period and it ends at 2359 on 23 September.


How you choose to act in the last hours of your quarantine (which will be out of normal working hours) is of course entirely up to you.

  • I do believe I referenced the appropriate law in my answer below.
    – copper.hat
    Aug 25, 2020 at 8:16
  • 3
    @copper.hat Yes, but you also provide contradictory information not asked for and then advocate breaking the law, which seems a peculiar thing to advise a foreign visitor to do. This answer is pure fact. Aug 25, 2020 at 8:22
  • 1
    Your last sentence is a bit odd in the context of your criticism of copper's answer. There is nothing legally special about the "last hours of your quarantine," so "entirely up to you" either means you are encouraging them to break quarantine; or that it is equally up to them throughout quarantine whether they follow quarantine. Which of course, it's not, in the same way "How fast you choose to drive in a 35 mph zone" is not entirely up to you. Aug 25, 2020 at 17:12
  • 3
    I'm neither encouraging nor discouraging. It is a statement of fact. It's exactly the same as observing a speed limit. Aug 25, 2020 at 17:46

A strict reading of the rules simply says 14 days, and as such the sensible thing to do would be to consider that 14 full 24 hour periods, so if you entered the country at 8pm (for example) on the 9th of September, then your isolation period would end at 8pm on the 23rd.

This isn't the sort if thing to skimp on, keep yourself and others safe.

  • Your 'strict' reading is not quite correct. The isolation in your example does not end until the end of day on September 23rd, not 8pm.
    – copper.hat
    Aug 25, 2020 at 7:45
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Willeke
    Aug 25, 2020 at 8:06

From a legal perspective, the fourteen days start on the day after your arrival (the legal text is here, see 4.(7)(a)), so legally you are required to self isolate until the end of day on September 23rd. That is, strictly speaking (from a legal perspective) you should not attend the event if you arrive on September 9th.

The remainder of this answer discusses where the 14 days comes from.

From a disease transmission perspective, there is no magic event after an exact 14 days. The 14 days is an estimate of when about 99% of people will have shown symptoms assuming they were infected on Day 1.

There are estimates of the distribution of incubation periods, for example look at the figure in this paper.

Another study (here, not peer reviewed) suggests that 'about 10% of patients with COVID-19 would not develop symptoms until 14 days after infection'.

Yet another study (here) suggests that the incubation period depends on age (see Figure 1 in said article).

Self isolation is just one aspect of prudent Covid behaviour. If you attend your event wear a mask and maintain distance if for no reason other than the precautionary principle.

  • 11
    There is a magic event after an exact 14 day period - the ability for you to be fined for breaching self isolation disappears. gov.uk/government/publications/… Governments have to put arbitrary time periods in effect, because its been shown time and again that the general public generally does not have good judgement - some people will think that they are good to go after a couple of days, some people will stay isolated for the entire period.
    – user29788
    Aug 25, 2020 at 4:08
  • 3
    People, remember the rule 'be nice'. This question and its answers are not about any government but that of the UK.
    – Willeke
    Aug 25, 2020 at 8:14
  • 4
    @copper.hat - Let me add a non-anonymous downvote then. I downvote because the OP asks how the 14 days are counted, rather than whether they should ignore the law. That makes the lack of magic events off topic. Some parts of your answer are quite good, though, except that they don't make your key point on topic either. Aug 25, 2020 at 8:46
  • 2
    @JirkaHanika Thank you, I appreciate your directness. I will rearrange my answer.
    – copper.hat
    Aug 25, 2020 at 8:51
  • 2
    And I have rearranged my vote. Aug 25, 2020 at 9:01

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