UK Airports as Lockdown Eases: What Uber Drivers Need To Know

UK Airports as Lockdown Eases: What Uber Drivers Need To Know

Airports like Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted are usually ideal places for Uber drivers to pick up passengers and get tips. Following the government’s latest plans to gradually ease the UK lockdown, we’ve put together all the information you’ll need when picking up and dropping off at the country’s main airports.

This information was updated on 17th March 2021. Before you visit an airport, make sure to check the latest government guidance and the procedures specific to the airport.

At a glance

  • The earliest date passengers from England will be able to travel abroad for a holiday is 17th May. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet announced their travel rules.
  • International travel remains on essential basis only.
  • Passengers arriving from a ‘red listed’ country can only enter the UK through five English airports.
  • Due to the new South African and Brazilian COVID-19 variants, non-UK residents and Irish nationals are entirely banned from UK entry from a new list of countries.


Can passengers fly to UK airports at the moment?

A number of new measures have been put in place within the last month for travellers entering the UK.

Passengers arriving in the UK must now take a coronavirus test on days two and eight of quarantine, at a cost of £210. If they test positive, they must self-isolate for a further 10 days. There is a £1,000 penalty for not taking the test, followed by a £2,000 fine for failing to take the second one, with quarantine automatically extended to 14 days.

With tests being costly and penalties in place for passengers who fail to take mandatory tests, airports will continue to be quiet in the early stages of the ‘unlocking’ of the UK. If you are picking up passengers from a UK airport, it’s a good idea to first check the pick-up points and prices at the airport you’re visiting.

Are any passengers banned from entering the UK?

The UK has placed a number of countries on its ‘red list’. People travelling from these countries to the UK need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel on arrival and can only enter the UK via five airports. These are:

  • Heathrow
  • Gatwick
  • London City
  • Birmingham
  • Farnborough Airfield

With concerns surrounding the new South African and Brazilian COVID-19 variants, travellers who have been in the following countries in the 10 days before travelling to the UK are banned from entry entirely, with the only exceptions being UK residents or Irish nationals:

  • Europe: Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
  • Middle East: United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Africa: Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela

Passengers from other countries who are not on the ‘red list’ are able to come to the UK for essential travel, provided they have proof of a negative COVID-19 test. These passengers must still self isolate for 10 days on arrival even if they have tested negative for the virus. Importantly for Uber pick-ups, though, passengers from non ‘red listed’ countries are able to travel by private hire or public transport to their home or the place where they will self-isolate.

With hope on the horizon of increased international movement, it’s still very important that drivers stay safe while transporting passengers and keep the car well ventilated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Can passengers fly from UK airports?

People are still only allowed to travel from UK airports for essential reasons only: 

  • To complete work that cannot be done from home
  • For medical appointments
  • For educational reasons

With police presence having stepped up at airports, many passengers will be instructed to go home or they will be given a fine. There will undoubtedly be some drop-offs to do, but with the UK toughening travel restrictions there won’t be any holidayers booking a ride. If you are dropping off passengers at a UK airport, it’s advisable to first check the drop-off points and prices at the airport you’re visiting.

When will the airports be getting busier?

There’s still some waiting to do before holidaymakers can head to the airport for a getaway. In England, the “stay at home” rule is due to end on 29th March, with UK holidays allowed from 12th April. This is subject to success of previous milestones going smoothly, like children heading back to schools on 8th March and the success of the vaccine rollout in reducing COVID-related hospital admissions.

The earliest date people from England will be able to travel abroad for a holiday is 17th May. However, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet announced their travel rules.

All restrictions on mixing are projected to end on 21st June, as part of the final stage of lifting lockdown, with further information on international travel set to be released nearer the time.

What are the travel rules where I work?


Travellers leaving England from 8th March must make a declaration on why they need to travel, which will be checked by carriers prior to departure. Essential travel is permitted, as long as passengers state whether they came from a ‘red listed’ country and quarantine accordingly for 10 days on their return.


Passengers must present proof of a negative test result or they will not be able to board a flight to Scotland without a valid reason and could be fined £480 on arrival. Due to the threat of new variants of COVID-19, all non-British and Irish nationals, visa holders and permanent residents who arrive from Brazil, South Africa and other linked countries are banned from entry.


From 15th February, the Welsh Government announced that passengers who have been in a ‘red listed’ country in the previous 10 days will not be allowed into Wales. Passengers returning to the UK from a country on the red list must arrive through one of the designated ports of entry to the UK in England or Scotland. Travel must be essential only.

Entering the airports

Airports also require anyone entering to do the following things:

  • Wear a face covering while travelling through any part of the airport
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Keep your hands clean on the go by using hand sanitiser
  • Make contactless payments where possible

And of course, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 you must stay at home.

As a private hire driver, INSHUR can support you with flexible short or long term insurance options. If you’re not quite ready to return to passenger pickup when lockdown restrictions in the UK begin to ease, then delivery work could be a good option. With INSHUR you are automatically covered to do delivery work at no added cost during the lockdown or you can now purchase a delivery-only policy without private hire. Click here for more details. 



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