COVID19 Travel Advice

Travel during the COVID19 pandemic is highly likely to be disrupted or possibly refused, even if for duty purposes. Travellers must take extra precautions and prepare contingencies for not being able to complete journeys. This can include refusal of access to international travel as a result of border restrictions or testing positive for COVID19. This section is intended to provide advice and current policy but can be subject to sudden change. You are strongly advised not to travel unless it is essential.

All UK MOD personnel should continue to comply with the DoD movement restrictions in force at their location.  Those in areas that have had restrictions lifted may consider leave and essential business travel within permitted areas but CO/line managers must use judgement to consider impact of op risks, quarantine and other local limitations, such as distance limits.  In planning leave travel personnel need to be mindful of changing restrictions in their home State and the States (or countries) they plan to visit and to keep their plans under review. The following web resources provide additional guidance and should be monitored for changes: 

DoD “Open” States: https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/article/2211257/

DoD Guidance: https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/

BDSUS have responded to several cases where personnel undergoing private travel have encountered issues with COVID or COVID limiting consequences for healthcare and personal costs. You must exercise good judgement when making decisions on activities that will increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19, including the broader impact on your workspace. Contracting COVID-19 while conducting personal travel abroad or within the US may create problematic, highly stressful and costly situations and may impact access to treatment, accommodation and the ability to return home/duty as planned.  You should check ahead and ensure that your travel plans can realistically be supported by the infrastructure and services available in the locations you intend to use. 

The US and UK both require negative tests prior to travel.  The tests permitted vary by country but both accept the cheaper Antigen test (result usually same day) or more expensive PCR (more accurate, result usually after more than one day).  The test must be timed no later than 72 hours before flight departure.  UK and US specific advice can be found at:

US: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html 

UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/international-travel-update-11-january-2021 

Due to the rapidly changing situation concerning local regulations.  Personnel should ensure they research testing options prior to travel and ensure that their timelines for travel include sourcing and processing the results of a test along with contingencies should they test positive.

Military and Civilian personnel can be reimbursed for COVID Tests when travelling for the following reasons:

  • For Duty Travel;
  • Travelling on their Leave Travel Scheme or WEF 14 May 21 their Get You Home (Overseas)/Mid Tour Leave Travel;
  • School Children Visits.

Personnel can reclaim the cost of their Pre-departure test, the Day 2 & 8 testing package and the subsequent pre-departure test for their return. Individuals that are required to conduct another test on return to the US can also claim this if they cannot get this through Service sources/free testing facilities provided by the US.

Test to Release costs can only be reclaimed under the following circumstances:

  • When returning to the UK for duty purposes, and it can be demonstrated that there is a business requirement for them to be released early;
  • When returning to the UK for duty, at the end of tour, or under a MOD paid for Leave travel scheme, with authority to stay in a hotel due to no other accommodation being available. Budget Managers can authorise Test to Release where it can be shown to save money overall.

Reimbursement of COVID Tests for Military and Civilian personnel may be claimed under your UIN via miscellaneous claims following:

  • JPA (Mil – JPA Misc. Claim>Medical, Dental, Opticians & Prescription fees with ‘COVID-19 Test’ in justification box)
  • HRMS (Civ – HR Form 1108 with ‘COVID-19 Test’ as justification).

Tests will be not be reimbursed for personnel and dependants travelling to and from the UK at their own expense. Any tests in excess of £250 (obtained elsewhere privately) must have Line Management endorsement.

The UK requires arrivals from international travel to isolate upon arrival for periods of up to 10 days, regardless of the requirement for a negative pre-travel test. The US requires 7 days isolation. Specific location advice varies, frequently by State or country, and should be checked locally. Measures may include the ability to test-to-release sooner than the usual isolation period.

Fully vaccinated individuals are exempt isolation in the US after international travel, provided they remain symptom free.

Irrespective of stronger local isolation requirements, as a minimum MOD staff in the US must exercise caution for the first 10 days, stay at home as much as possible, use protective measures and not attend a workplace until tested (no sooner than 3-5 days after completion of travel) with a negative result.

UK and US specific advice can be found at:
US: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html.
UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk

The UK has restricted international and domestic travel to that which is essential only, meaning that the bar is now set higher than ever for approving travel to the UK.  Only approved duty, assignment and some welfare related journeys are likely to be approved under the current climate, subject to further tightening of controls. 

The MOD can access some exemptions for travel where justified.  These are detailed in the Official Sensitive Defence Advisory Note 18 (DAN18) which can be accessed on MODnet at: Covid-19 Defence Advice Notes (DANs) site .  If you cannot access this, you should contact the BDSUS J1 Team.

Exemptions can be requested for certain essential business and personal welfare resilience reasons, but these require exceptional authority. Authority for the use of exemptions in the US currently remains at 2* level for any personnel coming under BDSUS ADMINCON. Any personnel unsure of their exemption authority or who have genuine welfare reasons can also contact SO2 J1 at BDSUS.

As a reminder:

  • International travel is seen as the number one risk to Britain’s containment of COVID19 and variants. A requirement to travel does not automatically necessitate a requirement of exemption from quarantine.
  • The rationale for authorising exemptions from quarantine is scrutinised at the highest level within the UK.
  • Personnel must read and understand the policies underpinning the exemption for which they are applying, as set out in Defence Advisory Notice (DAN) 18.
  • Personnel must be comprehensive in their justification and thorough when detailing the mitigation sections on their applications. Vague or ambiguous applications will likely be rejected.
  • The granting of an exemption is for a defined reason or activity, it does not waive the overall requirement for an individual to isolate and follow HMG COVID19 direction when not partaking in the identified exempted activity.

Our own BDSUS SOP 1295 (Covid19 travel exemptions) has been refreshed in line with the most recent DAN18 v6.6. The document links are below (requires a Defence Connect account) with the application for both types of exemption (defence and personnel resilience) appearing at Annex A to BDSUS SOP 1295. BDSUS SO2 J1 is to be copied on all applications to ensure that the DA’s duty of care is recorded and that all exemptions from the US are properly recorded iaw DAN18.

  • BDSUS SOP 1295 – COVID19 Border Measures Exemptions
  • BDSUS SOP 1295 Annex A – Applications for Quarantine Exemptions
  • DAN 18 v6.6 – COVID-19 Health Measures at the border and effects on delivering defence tasks (Defence Gateway account required)

Personnel travelling to the UK must complete a location form before arrival in the UK. The form cannot be submitted until 48 hours before arrival in the UK. The completed form is to be shown on arrival at the UK border, either by printing a copy, or showing it on a phone. The government will use this information to contact you if you or someone you’ve travelled with develops coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, and to check that you’re self-isolating for the first 10 days after you arrive in the UK.

  Service and civilian personnel can choose to self-isolate in a hotel, at their own expense. As you are not required to stay in a particular location for Service reasons, you are not entitled to accommodation at public expense. Existing regulations permit Service Personnel public funding for hotel accommodation for 3 or 4 nights prior to a move into SFA or if stored personal effects are unavailable in the case of a move into private accommodation but authority must be sought from the gaining unit iaw JSP 752 para 05.0162). You will be expected to occupy public (or own accommodation) after this period – if not sooner – and are permitted to self-isolate at more than one location (i.e. if you stayed in a hotel before moving into your own accommodation / Service Families Accommodation). You will need to plan to take over accommodation and personal effects by proxy. Bottom line – talk to your new UK unit support staff for assistance if necessary.

COVID restrictions and their impact on allowance are under frequent review.  MOD policy staffs publish new and temporary policy via directed letters which can be accessed on: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tri-service-regulations-for-expenses-and-allowances-jsp-752

Policy regarding the impact of COVID-19 on Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) and School Childrens Visits (SCV) is owned by MOD Remuneration Policy Staffs (Rem).  Due to the dynamic nature of the situation, the best resource to find the latest Directed Letters detailing policy and special measures can found at www.gov.uk, specifically on the following page: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tri-service-regulations-for-expenses-and-allowances-jsp-752/directed-letter-dl-school-childrens-visits-scvs-enhanced-interim-arrangements-in-response-to-coronavirus-covid-19-for-service-personnel-assig

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2021 @ 1:22 pm

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