A £5,000 fine for trying to travel abroad without good reason is due to come into force next week as part of new COVID-19 laws.
With the second phase of ‘Step One’ of the government’s roadmap to lifting England’s current national lockdown set to commence on Monday 29th March, MPs will vote on the introduction of new legislation from that date in the House of Commons of Thursday.
Foreign holidays are currently not allowed under the “stay at home” rule – which ends on Monday – but the ban on leaving the UK from this time will become a specific law.
It will be backed up by the threat of the £5,000 fine.
This proposed new law states that no one can “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.
A £200 fixed penalty notice can already be issued to those who fail to fill in a travel declaration form – which includes personal details and reason for travel – for those leaving the UK.
There are a number of exemptions to the ban, which are travel for:
- Legal obligations or to vote
- Moving, selling or renting property
- Childcare reasons or to be present at a birth
- Visiting a dying relative or close friend
- Attending a funeral
- Getting married or attending the wedding of a close relative
- Medical appointments
- Escaping a risk of harm
The ban does not apply to those travelling to the common travel area of the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland – unless that is not the final destination.
Under the current roadmap for easing restrictions, the earliest date that people in England could go abroad for a holiday would be 17th May, however, another surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in continental Europe, as well as the slow rollout of vaccines across Europe, has sadly cast a somewhat of a doubt on the resumption of foreign travel.
Although, if approved, the new travel laws won’t expire until 30th June, during an appearance on Sky News this morning, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that foreign holidays could be allowed before that date.
Mr Hancock said: “The questions of whether people will be able to travel abroad this summer are going to be addressed by the Global Travel Taskforce, which is reporting around 12 April.
“The roadmap sets out the earliest date by which we will allow for international travel – without one of the clear reasons you need now – is 17 May [and] that has not changed. The way we’re putting that into law is as part of these roadmap regulations that will be voted on on Thursday.
“They come to an end as a whole at the end of June.
“But that doesn’t change the timings for these questions on international travel.”
He did however go on to warn that it was currently “too early to say” what the taskforce would decide on foreign holidays, due to the recent surge in COVID-19 infections across Europe, adding: “The reason for that is we are seeing this third wave rising in some parts of Europe and we’re also seeing new variants.
“It is very important we protect the progress we’ve been able to make here in the UK.”
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.
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