PEOPLE from England and Wales who try and leave the country for a holiday will be fined up to £5,000 from Monday.
The ban, which lasts until June 30 under new Covid regulations, was approved by MPs in parliament today and will come into force on Monday.
Under the new laws, residents need a valid reason in order to travel abroad – of which there are a number of approved reasons.
Foreign breaks were already banned, but as the country was under a stay at home order, it was not enforced in law.
The ban will last until June 30, but a decision could be made to lift travel restrictions earlier if the vaccine roll out improves abroad and Covid numbers in other countries go down.
A Government source told The Times that the ban will be extended until June 30 purely for “legislative convenience… to stop people travelling before May 17”.
The extension does not pre-empt the review of foreign travel happening next month, the source added.
Separate rules will apply to Scotland, but they have yet to outline their own regulations.
Reasonable reasons to travel outside the UK
- Travel within the Common Travel Area
- Where it’s necessary for work
- For study outside the UK
- For volunteer or charity work
- Elite sportspeople- for training or competitions
- To fulfil a legal obligation
- To seek medical assistance or appointments
- For the purpose of moving house or viewing a house to buy or rent
- To be at the birth of a child at the mum’s request
- To visit someone in a hospice or care home – but only close friends and family
- To visit someone who is dying – close friends and family only
- To attend a funeral
- For childcare purposes
- You are getting married outside the UK
- Contact with siblings for children in care
- If you don’t live in the UK permanently and are going home
The UK government has a number of important dates as part of the roadmap out of lockdown, which hope to allow travel to resume as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he hopes to be able to say more about foreign travel by April 5.
He said: “We’ve heard already that there are other European countries where the disease is now rising so things certainly look difficult for the time being but we will be able to say more we hope in a few days’ time, I certainly hope to say more by April 5.”
Then on April 12, the Global Travel Taskforce will report to the government and back and they will make a decision on when to lift the ban – although it will be no earlier than May 17.
However, several ministers and experts have warned that borders may have to stay closed to Europe this summer because of the rise in Covid cases and slow vaccine rollout.
Just this morning, Sir Jeremy Farrar, who is also the director of the Wellcome Trust, told the BBC Today programme: “Europe is going to be very bad, I’m afraid to say.
“The UK had an awful January and February, with 50 per cent of all deaths in the UK happening then.
“Europe is going through a very similar epidemic curve now and will have a terrible month or two ahead.”
He said that the government will have to think “very hard about summer holidays and travel”, adding: “The biggest risk to the UK is outside the UK borders.
“I think the ban will have to continue until we can see progress in Europe with the epidemic coming down and vaccination rates going up in Europe.”
Brits already have to also fill out a form if they do want to leave the country, stating their permitted reason to do so, or they will face a £200 fine for not having the right paperwork.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 laws come into force on March 29.
According to the legal document: “The Regulations also impose restrictions on leaving the United Kingdom without a reasonable excuse (regulation 8).”
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The law says no-one may “leave England to travel to a destination outside the United Kingdom, or travel to, or be present at, an embarkation point for the purpose of travelling from there to a destination outside the United Kingdom” without a reasonable excuse.
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, who deciphers the lockdown rules on Twitter for the public, said: “Previously, the ‘holiday ban’ which the government had advertised was assumed rather than explicit – because going on holiday wasn’t a reasonable excuse, it was assumed you couldn’t be outside of your home to do so.
“But now it is explicit.”