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Has the proposed UK travel ban been dropped? Have a read at the law

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Here’s a quick one for the lawyers amongst our readers.

This (PDF) is the full text of the new lockdown legislation which has just been published.

Having read this, admittedly not slowly over a number of hours, I cannot see any mention of a ban on leaving the United Kingdom.


There are other restrictions which could arguably cover this – eg the list of reasons why you can leave your home does not include ‘go on holiday’ – but there is not a specific ban on travel. Perhaps there was a view that this would breach human rights legislation?

You can leave your home for work, so presumably driving to the airport and getting on an aircraft is OK. The Government, to be fair, has always said that this would be acceptable.

So … you would be committing an offence by leaving your home for a purpose which was not work-related or for any other reason on the list. However, travelling abroad is not, in itself, an offence. British Airways will not be committing an offence by having you on the aircraft and cannot be fined for doing so. There is also no requirement for you to prove to the airline that you are travelling for work.

Bizarrely, as the legislation is written, it seems that a homeless person can travel abroad for any reason. 2.5.3 makes it clear that a homeless person is committing no offence by not being in a home, and there are no restrictions on travelling to the airport or flying somewhere!

You are also allowed to leave home to view a residential property. This property could be outside the UK presumably.

Have a read for yourself and see what you think.

PS. The regulations also clarify that hotels can continue to do room service even though restaurants and bars are closed. Hotels can remain open and, looking online, many – at least in London – will.

PPS. 4.15.5 seems to imply that airport lounges can remain open and serve food and drink.

Comments (278)

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  • EvilDoctorK says:

    I’m not a lawyer, but doesn’t Part 4 – 15.5 imply that lounges at the airport can remain open too ?

  • Anna says:

    I’ve had a quick look (so glad I don’t have to get to grips with this stuff any more!) and the only contravention would seem to be that you would be leaving your home for a purpose other than the permitted ones, but if you were prepared to risk getting a fine then theoretically it would be possible to get to an airport (and presumably on a plane, if there are actually any flights and depending on what kind of checks are being carried out. I did say the other say I thought actually banning air travel would be a logistical nightmare and it may well be dropped from the lockdown plans. I’m not advocating law breaking but frankly it’s farcical to ban (outbound but not inbound?) foreign travel at this point, especially while keeping schools and unis open!

    • The real John says:

      If your primary residence is not in the UK, then are you not breaking the law the moment you arrive in the UK, unless you have a reasonable excuse to be away from your primary residence?

  • Sam G says:

    I would take the understanding that as it isn’t listed as a reason why you can be outside of the home (to travel to/from the airport) it is therefore not allowed

    One imagines that TUI etc have taken advice on this before suspending their holiday program

    • Lady London says:


    • Josh says:

      It isn’t an exhaustive list of exemptions to the prohibition of leaving your home – it is a list of examples. All you need is a ‘reasonable excuse’

  • EvilDoctorK says:

    Intriguingly there’s still this reference

    “Exception 11: Returning home
    (15) Exception 11 is that it is reasonably necessary for P to be outside P’s home to enable P to return home from any place where P was on holiday immediately before these Regulations came into force. ”

    But no other reference to holiday elsewhere in the document .. I wonder was something excised before this was published and this left in ?

    Anyway yes agreed there is no explicit prohibition that I can see , other than it not being listed as an exception in section 6)

  • Andrew says:

    It’s implicit (albeit unhelpful) as not being a valid exception for not remaining at home.
    Trips (air, train, sea) other than for work not possible from home, are forbidden (unless another exception applies). Airport lounges can remain open.

  • Anna says:

    You can leave your home to view a residential property – it doesn’t say the property has to be in the UK 🤣

  • meta says:

    This is my favourite bit: “Where a relevant person considers that a person is outside the place where they are living in contravention of regulation 5(1), the relevant person may direct that person to return to the place where they are living.” 🙄

  • Anna says:

    And this is really piquing my interest – it’s also allowed to leave your home for the purpose of providing a short break for a Looked After Child. I am a respite carer for such a child so this tends to suggest that we could go somewhere if we took him with us!

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