Ban on international travel extended to July over fears of third wave

Mar 23, 2021

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International holidays may be on hold until at least July. And, the government is threatening to hit anyone who tries to bypass those rules with a £5,000 fine.

The draft laws, which were published on Monday, will face a vote on Thursday, according to the Telegraph. If approved, anyone looking to leave the U.K. before 30 June must have a “reasonable excuse” to do so — and holidaying isn’t considered a reasonable excuse. Anyone who travels to a port with the intention to travel internationally for a non-essential reason could be faced with a £5,000 fine.

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The law, if passed, would be in place until 30 June.

However, that date is merely nothing more than legislative convenience. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled in his roadmap out of lockdown, the earliest date that international travel could resume was set to be 17 May. And that date still remains a possibility.

Related: What does the roadmap out of lockdown mean for travel?

When the Global Travel Taskforce announces its findings on a return to travel by 12 April at the earliest, we will have a clearer picture if that 17 May date will hold.

If the Global Travel Taskforce does find that international travel can resume on 17 May — or at any other point before 30 June — then it will be allowed to do so.

Monday’s draft law does not have any bearing on whether or not international travel can return on 17 May. If Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and the other members of the Global Travel Taskforce determine international travel can return, it will be permitted to do so.

While the date for the return to international travel is still largely up in the air, there are new fears of a third wave of the pandemic rising around Europe, which could derail travel plans.

“We are seeing this third wave rise in some parts of Europe, and new variants, and it is very important we protect the progress we have made,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sky News. “It shows what an international challenge this is, and what we have to do is all work as much as we can together, but it also shows why we are being cautious on international travel.”

One of Johnson’s ministers said England may put “all our European neighbours” on the list of travel ban countries.

However, Hancock confirmed on BBC Radio 4 that there were no plans to do so.

Currently, the travel ban list is made up of 35 countries that are considered especially high risk for the likelihood of importing new variants of the virus. As such, the government has banned all travel to England from these red list countries with the exception of British or Irish nationals, or those with residency rights in England.

Related: All 35 countries that are on the UK’s travel ban list

Those who are still permitted to travel to England from travel ban countries are required to undergo a 10-day mandatory quarantine in a government-approved hotel. The hotel quarantine costs £1,750 for a solo traveller and includes meals, security, transportation to and from the hotel and the accommodation itself.

Related: Everything you need to know about the UK’s hotel quarantine

Earlier this month, the government announced that all travellers looking to leave the country must have completed a travel declaration, stating that they’re travelling for essential reasons. Travellers who show up at a port without a copy of their declaration could face a £200 fine.

Featured photo by Matteo Colombo/Getty Images.

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