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Application process for entry permits to open this week

Border restrictions to change next Monday

The rules on travelling to and from the Island will change from the start of next week. 

On Monday (20 July) Manx people will be free to go to the UK and beyond for any reason, but they'll be legally required to self-isolate for 14 days on their return.   

Anyone's been free to leave the Island since borders closed in late-March, it's coming back which has been difficult for some, and tightly policed.

For months, those arriving must have an exemption certificate from government, or have come back via the repatriation process.

It's been like that since 22 March, when the Island had five confirmed cases of Covid-19. Though worse was to come, much has changed since. 

The Island has been coronavirus free for some time, with the opportunity to travel along an air corridor with Guernsey now in place.

So what's changed? 

Last week, the chief minister announced a significant change in border policy, because of the falling covid infection rate in England, which is 1 person in every 3,900 people.

You can now go to the UK, and, provided you've applied for a Manx Entry Permit, come back and self-isolate at home for two weeks.

Unlike current exemption for categories like key workers, or those returning from medical treatment, anyone can ask for this permit, for any reason.

You'll also be required to wear a mask when you travel, but won't be tested as you go.

It's as many with the virus are asymptomatic, and you'll have to isolate for 14 days anyway, which is the maximum incubation period for Covid-19.

It's a welcome change for those who for so long have been apart from family friends, and loved ones in the adjacent Isle and further afield.

How do you get a permit?

You have to apply via the government website, when the application process becomes available at the end of this week.

There will also be a phone option for this.

As part of this process, you'll be provided with a unique exemption number, to be used when completing all the relevant paper work.

On your return, you have to complete an online landing form within 48 hours, and provide details like the address where you'll be self-isolating, your contact number.

You'll also be asked to make a health declaration.

A newly-created border force will meet you, and give you a self-isolation order, a legal document which makes clear if you break your two week quarantine, you'll get a fine, or go to prison.

To ensure you're abiding by the rules, random checks in person and over the phone will be made on those who've come back, with details used for contact tracing if necessary.

Does everyone in your household need to self-isolate if you return from the UK?

No, only the traveller needs to self-isolate, unless they develop symptoms, in which case, everyone else living in the home must also stay indoors for two weeks.  

You should try to use a separate bathroom, limit interaction with others, and have cleaning regimes in place.

And to stress, you don't have to self-isolate when you arrive in the UK either, as any arrivals from the Common Travel Area aren't required to.

Non-Manx residents are still unable to come here unless they get an exemption.

Isn't this a risky step to take?

The Island has enjoyed a prolonged period without the virus, but many politicians have said it's question of if, not when, another case will be confirmed.

More movement between the Island and the UK will increase the risk, and then it's a question of preparedness.

This latest development in border policy is 'stage four', stage three of the borders framework is next, and it will take place if the UK infection rate keeps falling. That would mean you could host friends and family from further afield, provided you all self-isolate.

It would also allow businesses to bring in workers with specialist skills under sponsorship, though it's said travel to and from the workplace tightly controlled.

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