Here’s what England’s new tier system means for travel within the UK

Oct 14, 2020

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On Monday, the prime minister unveiled a new three-tier COVID alert level system for England. With the announcement came some new rules regarding how those living in certain areas are able to travel and whether or not travel to certain areas is permitted, depending on the tier level.

With half-term on the horizon and staycations still on the cards for many Brits, we put together this guide on how coronavirus affects domestic holidays within the U.K.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will not partake in the three-tier system but have their own set of rules pertaining to areas under local restrictions which are also detailed below.

Related: Leave your passport at home: 7 UK destinations with an international feel

Before reading on, it might be worth checking the restrictions for your local area, or the area of the U.K. that you’re thinking of travelling to, so you know which of the rules applies to you. You can find out an individual area’s restrictions through this government web page.

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Rules for England

Tier one

People who live in an area with this tier can holiday anywhere in England. This can also be with other households in private accommodation as long as you social distance. Maximum group size is six unless your household or support bubble is bigger. You can also stay in hotels or B&Bs but not in the same room if possible and socialising should be restricted to outdoors. Sharing a vehicle with those outside your household or support bubble should also be avoided.

Tier two

The government’s current advice is to “reduce the number of journeys where possible”. Those living in tier two areas can go on holiday outside their local area as long as they don’t share accommodation or socialise with anyone not included in their household or bubble.

Those visiting tier two areas should follow the local Covid rules for that area.

Tier three

Travel outside of your local area is to be avoided unless it’s for work, education or caring responsibilities. Visiting and staying overnight in other parts of the U.K. is not allowed whether it’s in a second home, a private home or guest accommodation. However, you can still stay in hotels or other guest accommodation in your local area but only with people in your household or support bubble.

Those living in tier one and tier two areas should avoid visiting or staying overnight in a tier three area unless it’s for work, education or caring responsibilities.

Rules for Scotland

You can travel anywhere in Scotland providing there are no local restrictions in your area advising you not to. Current restrictions mean those living in the central belt region (which stretches from Glasgow to Edinburgh) are not to travel outside of their areas, unless necessary, from 10 to 25 October, inclusive. Those living elsewhere are not to visit the central belt region, unless absolutely necessary.

Related: Here’s why Scotland should be on your bucket list

It is not permitted to visit or stay with another household anywhere in Scotland. You are, however, allowed to stay in other private accommodation, hotels or B&Bs but only if it’s with your own household.

People living in Scotland should not travel to areas in England where local restrictions are in place unless the journey is essential.

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Rules for Wales

Essential journeys only are permitted in or out of areas under location restrictions in Wales. Under current restrictions, this also means that those living outside Wales are not permitted to travel to these areas, but are free to holiday in areas without local restrictions.

However, in an announcement on Wednesday, plans by Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford banned those living in COVID hotspots elsewhere in the U.K. from travelling to Wales as of 6 p.m. on Friday 16 October. Details of the areas which will be banned were unconfirmed at the time of writing.

Related: Castles, culture and Cardiff: 4 reasons why Wales is on my bucket list

Breaking this rule can mean a fixed penalty notice by the police or even a prosecution and court fine.

People living in areas with no local restrictions are allowed to travel anywhere else with no local restrictions, either inside or outside the country.

Rules for Northern Ireland

Those living in areas of Northern Ireland without local restrictions are able to travel elsewhere in the U.K. so long as local guidelines are followed. Staying with another household outside your support bubble is not allowed.

Related: The ultimate guide to visiting Northern Ireland

Areas which face local restrictions are not to be visited by those from other parts of the country.

Bottom line

These are unique and challenging times for all of us. Thankfully, we’re still allowed the healing and relaxing benefits that travel can bring, albeit with a few more restrictions than usual. We can all do our bit to continue to travel safely and respectfully by following these simple guidelines. Stay safe, and happy staycationing.

Featured photo by nick.jackson via Twenty20

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