Senior executives and City dealmakers entering England for specific investment purposes will from Saturday be exempt from having to quarantine under new proposals to be announced on Thursday.
Ministers will also exempt performing arts professionals, TV production staff, journalists and recently signed elite sportspersons from having to quarantine — according to people familiar with the plans.
The exemption would mean that executives from large companies would not need to self-isolate or take a test if they are involved in high-value deals that deliver a “significant” economic return to the UK and boost business investment.
Those eligible will include senior executives of multinational companies visiting their subsidiaries in England and executives who have left the country on business and are returning for “specific activity” required for the company’s operations.
The exemption will also apply to foreign-based executives seeking to make a financial investment or place a contract in England.
Under the new rules, the eligible executives would have to work for companies with at least 50 employees.
The list of those exempt from the quarantine requirement is at present limited to only a handful of essential workers such as the armed forces and technical staff working for utility companies.
Alok Sharma, the business secretary, has previously said he was sympathetic to the idea of an exemption for senior City figures regularly flying in and out of the country on business.
At present, people flying in from most countries, unless they are on the “green list” of exceptions, have to self-isolate for 14 days after entering England.
That will change from December 15 when people will be able to isolate for just five days if they then pay for a Covid test which turns out to be negative.
The new exemptions for senior executives come amid a separate plan to allow looser rules for business travellers making short trips into England.
The government floated plans last week under which any businesspeople coming into England for trips of up to three days could be exempt from the quarantine system.
A cross-departmental Global Travel Taskforce said in a report that the exemption could be introduced in early 2021, although the business visitors would be banned from any socialising while in England.
The body, chaired by health secretary Matt Hancock and transport secretary Grant Shapps, recommended a consultation with clinicians and industry to see if the policy would be practical and how it might be administered.