I would like to see my parents who I haven't seen since February. They live within an hour's drive of Dover, I live within an hour's drive of Calais.

With the current Covid restrictions, people arriving from France (plus other countries) must self-quarantine for two weeks while they are in the UK, but they are allowed to leave the UK again before the two weeks is up - going to the UK for a day trip is therefore technically possible.

Seeing as my trip would be for the day and the only time I would leave the car would be to sit in my parents' back garden, am I breaking the quarantine restrictions? Is it even allowed? I have no other address to go to in the UK so can't isolate somewhere else as there is nowhere else to isolate.

Is there any official guidance on this sort of situation? What is the British interpretation of quarantine in the current context? Can I visit my parents or does quarantine make this impossible?

1 Answer 1


The UK government has a very extensive web page explaining how to self-isolate when arriving in the UK from abroad. With some caveats, your plan is doable, but perhaps not recommendable.

First of all, you are allowed to self-isolate staying with friends or family and as you already pointed out, you are allowed to leave the isolation for the purpose of travelling out of the UK. You should however also consider the following:

  • You are requested to stay away from others, also from other people at the location you are self-isolating. It is recommended that you stay in a separate room. This will likely prevent the kind of visit you were expecting.
  • It is unfortunately unclear if you are allowed to stay outside in your own garden. The page mentions that you are allowed to exercise in your own garden, but not that any arbitrary stay in the garden is allowed.
  • You will have to stay at one place. It is only with very few exceptions allowed to change the place you are isolating, so you would not be allowed to visit more relatives or friends at their respective places.
  • You (and in this case also your parents) are not allowed to have visitors while you are isolating.
  • If you develop symptoms while staying there, the entire house-hold will be required to self-isolate and it seems as if you are required to stay in isolation and are not allowed to leave the UK until the isolation period ends.
  • 2
    Thanks for the reply and the very helpful link. It seems like it's not legal becuase we (the people in quarantine) should be staying in the same room, whereas there we'd be sitting in the garden with my parents. Ironically, the other way round seems more feasible because France has no quarantine from the UK, and my retired-and-healthy parents could then isolate themselves for two weeks afterwards without as much impact as on a working family.
    – Rich
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 15:36
  • @Rich Each country set their own risk levels for determining if a quarantine is required or not when coming from abroad. Considering that the number of new cases is currently three times higher in France than in the UK, it is however not particularly ironical that the UK requires people coming from France to self isolate but now vice versa. Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 21:57
  • 2
    @Rich I think (though I am not a lawyer...) it's legal, just contrary to advice. See legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/568/regulation/4 especially clauses (8c) and (10), which state that there are no restrictions on interactions with the household where you're self-isolating, and that there are no restrictions on movement within the property.
    – avid
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 23:01
  • Note that earlier (during lockdown) guidance specified that "house" included any private garden so while it may be "unclear if you are allowed to stay outside in your own garden" it would be a significant change to prohibit sitting out there. There is a significant change from lockdown in that we had fewer restrictions on exercise than someone currently self-isolating. Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 15:07
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    For what it's worth, I visited yesterday. I filled in the UK Visa form on the UK Government website, and gave my parents' address as quarantine address, with identical arrival/departure dates. We drove straight to their house, and then drove straight back. The weather was terrible, so we spent the day in the house, sitting in different rooms with the doors open! No problem at all with UK Border Agency.
    – Rich
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 13:08

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