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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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  • Michael C says:

    “bans travel abroad”.
    If that were the wording, a forensic linguist could quite easily argue it means “once you’re abroad, you’re not allowed to travel”!
    As Anna suggests above, legislation wording would have to be VERY specific: “you are not allowed to depart the UK (except for…)”, etc.

  • ChrisW says:

    Heathrow will be very busy today with people trying to leave the UK for a month to avoid lockdown #2.

  • Peter Green says:

    Let’s be clear, the UK government cannot ban “overnight stays abroad”. It does not have that power.

    • DV says:

      The power the UK government is using to issue the Coronavirus regulations (the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984) probably does permit it to ban “overnight stays abroad”, although this is open to debate. The new regulations effectively prohibit travel abroad, because you are not permitted to leave the place where you live, unless you have a reasonable excuse to do so, or fall within one of the exceptions. The UK Parliament can certainly prohibit travel abroad if it chooses to.

      • Dev says:

        Why not just invalidate all British Passports, Residence Permits and Visas for 30 days. That would prevent anyone from traveling. Granted it’s draconian but passports are issued under Royal Prerogative and the public health grounds could be used.

        • Alastair says:

          Because for one that might make life a bit difficult for me, a British Citizen, who does not live in the UK but relies on my UK passport to function as a valid travel document and proof of identity and right of residence in the country where I live (which has handled the situation well enough to not need lockdowns)

  • Always_in_the_air says:

    As I understand it you have always been entitled to return to your home address, whether that be in the UK or abroad.

    I have a house in Spain, the UK, France and Switzerland. I spend very similar amount of time in all four locations, so much so I could not easily demonstrate (without checking credit card statements etc) where I have resided most in any normal 12 month period.

    Under, UK, French and (maybe) Spanish law I may be considered “ordinarily resident” in any of these countries.

    I have never been refused entry/exit/travel at any time in the last 12 months by any of these countries, the only restriction has been with regards varying countries quarantine restrictions.

    I shall I’m sure be testing the law at some point in the future!

    • Insider says:

      How the other 0.1% live!

      • GeorgeJ says:

        I think its a lot more than your percentage, especially for retirees and international assignment people on this forum.
        I am in a similar position to Always in the air and haven’t fully resided in the UK for @18 years even though I have one of my homes here.
        Since I was on visit here as this legislation evolved (a bit of an error on my part) I will probably stay, though I do have a ready business reason to leave. At the moment I have booked to leave on 3 December, will see how it all evolves.

    • Dawn says:

      I’ve got a place in Turkey and presume that I can’t travel there right now during lockdown, or indeed take my Gran Canaria trip simply because we can’t get insurance if we travel against Government advice? How does everyone get around this because I’d never travel without insurance?

      • sayling says:

        Insurance is available

      • WaynedP says:

        I’ve gone Battleface for medical insurance while abroad.

        Using flexible booking provisions to work around potential flight cancellations/delays.

    • Lady London says:

      just wondering would you be taxable in all 4?

  • Rose says:

    Well I can let everyone know as I’m booked to fly BA tomorrow night to go to my house in Cape Town. I was booked for today but changed it as chemist couldn’t guarantee Covid test would be back! Like lots of other retirees I have another home/life in South Africa and spend 6 months of the year there. I give up my home in U.K. and rent it out. If I get turned away from the airport I will be homeless! With the terror threat on high again I hope the police at the airport have more important things on their mind.
    Hope BA lounge open.

    • WaynedP says:

      Safe travels, Rose – I am envious.

      Please do share your travel experience (door to door).

      I am hoping to get out there myself at the end of this month for first time since my father died there 7 months ago, to finalise my dementia-ridden mother’s long-term financial and medical welfare arrangements, so your experience will be very informative in my circumstances, thanks.

      I have to be so careful not to take Covid-19 to my mother, so will be isolating for 2 weeks before I leave, minimising interaction as far as humanly possible enroute (drive to airport, J on BA) and hotel isolating for 6-7 days on arrival, followed by another negative test before I can even consider seeing my mother, and will be interested to learn of potential practical problems to this approach from your own experience.


      • Rose says:

        I will certainly let you know how it all goes. Sorry to hear of your very sad circumstances and let’s hope common sense prevailes.

        • Dawn says:

          We are due to go there in January for 3 months but my main concern is the SA hospitals (which I’ve had experience of before when I nearly died of breathing issues and the care was dreadful). I lived in SA for 5 years, you have a wonderful country, hope you have a safe trip 🙂

    • The real John says:

      You have several outs – firstly you are allowed to move house, and secondly, either you are returning to the place you are living (which happens to be in ZA), or you are homeless in which case the restriction on not leaving the place you are living does not apply.

    • Dev says:

      If yogis news is that if you become homeless (from a decision of the airline to deny you boarding), you free yourself from being unable to travel!

  • Tom says:

    Very disappointed that Rob and this site is encouraging people to mix with others at Heathrow and others.

    The law includes airspace.

    We need to all work together in defeating this virus and not looking for exemptions and reasons to be in close proximity to many others outside of our own family.

    Next we will be having groups flying abroad just to suddenly meet at the airport for a big lounge party.

    I thought better of Rob.

    • sloth says:

      Unfortunately this is the English way…claiming/demonstrating/insisting why the rules don’t apply to themselves but admonishing all the others who similarly look for ways to circumvent the rules…hence why lockdown number 2 will be extended beyond 2 December and will be followed by lockdown 3 and 4…

      • TGLoyalty says:

        No it seems the British way has increasingly become to make up “laws” and worry too much about what others are doing (and follow) rather than focus on doing what’s right to them.

      • Stephen Golding says:

        I thought the English way was the protection of citizens from imprisonment, as enshrined in the Magna Carta

    • Navara says:

      If the posts stop positive or negative The revenue stops😮

      • Sukes says:

        @Navarra = Nail & head

        • Rob says:

          We make virtually no money off PPV or PPC ads. 10% of our money last year came from Google ads, which are linked to views. Ads we sell direct are flat fee. The 10% hasn’t changed much this year because the drop off in flight and hotel commissions has moved in line with the drop off in ad rates.

          • S says:

            And I’m sure you won’t be using page view stats to justify your flat fee valuation.

          • Rob says:

            We only change the rates once or twice per year. A few thousand here and there makes no difference given we’ll do 19 million this year.

            If I want to make some money, I’d be better off bunging up another article on Amex Gold 🙂

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Rob is just reporting the facts!

    • Eshaq Choudhury says:

      Not saying this is Robs view but a huge part of the population don’t agree with the lockdown to begin with. Going abroad is the least of their concerns if they don’t agree to the lockdown. And before you say it’s just a bunch of conspiracy theorist minority, it’s actually a far larger proportion of the U.K. than you’d imagine. Just go to Twitter and search for #wewillnotcomply.

      • Lady London says:

        The point is those dissenters dont have the right to disagree with the lockdown. Everyone is supposed to follow what we’re told for the good of all.

        FWIW I disagree a lot too but I will do what I’m told. My wish to do something that means I leave home, thus risking other people with the bug I may even catch en route, is not my right to choose. Risk to me yes perhaps I could disagree but not if I could bring risk to others even transmitting bugs from one part of my journey to another.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          @LL they have the right to disagree and to lobby for different measure this isn’t a dictatorship.

          These models they are putting in the media this week were produced in early October and predicted 500-1k deaths a day by this week.

    • Anna says:

      Very disappointed that you think people on this site aren’t intelligent enough to make their own decisions, Tom.

      • Lady London says:

        Not the point, @Anna. Whatever we might think of the government’s choices the point is the risk to others of human proximity. I cant bring that to others if I can possibly avoid it.

        • Lady London says:

          Regardless of intelligence a d possibly our own better knowledge we do not have the right to risk others if this is what the government has told us movement will do.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          Anna & Lady London, i take the moral high ground, but even i have broken the rules since covid started (ok only minor) but still i broke the rules and will almost certainly break them again this time.
          What i wonder is can anybody say they didn’t break the rules or wont this time round if lockdown continues till 21 ?
          (i went to Tesco when i didn’t really need to, plus allowed my daughter in our flat weekly just for a visit, plus partners brother not much but still broke the rules, partners brother coming Sat as well)

      • Callum says:

        Though a lack of intelligence has indeed been demonstrated by many posters on this site, the bigger issue is quite obviously selfishness.

        While there are plenty of people spouting crazy conspiracy theories, there are many more who know the dangers of the virus but actively choose to break restrictions because it’s good for them personally. That is likely why Tom is taking issue with this article which, I fully agree with the others, does not actively encourage people to break the law. I can clearly see why someone would feel like it does though, given it explores ideas to facilitate this.

    • Dan says:

      I can smell some serious mental issues. The website is about travelling so Rob has just reviewed the law related to travelling. He doesn’t encourage people to mix & spread.

    • Coucou says:

      Miles > public health

      Don’t forget that some people here would sell their kids for 1000 avios.

    • Track says:

      @Tom, I have to say you are writing an Internet board post from your high place and Ivory tower, without knowing how the real world functions.

      For example, I see some business meetings shift to airport premises — that is, people fly in, have a scheduled meeting and fly out — not to become subject to local quarantine rules and lockdowns, which are a game of bingo.

      In the absence of proper testing and screening at airports — you or anyone for that matter should stop proliferating nonsense based on a ‘scientific advice’ of 7-day moving average..

      • The real John says:

        That would go against the regulations, but as with most of them, unlikely to be enforced

    • DV says:

      Rob is not encouraging anyone to do anything. He has reported in neutral terms the effect of the proposed regulations, which do not expressly prohibit travel, contrary to press reports at the weekend. They do, however, constrain your right to travel abroad if you live in England, because you would need a reasonable excuse or fall within one of the exceptions to do so. For example, if your work abroad can be done by Zoom, you will not be able to lawfully travel abroad for work. If it is not reasonably possible to work from home, and your work is abroad, you may be able to lawfully travel to it.

  • PaulB says:

    Lots of overthinking going on here.

    Put simply, travel cannot be banned while work is a valid reason to do so.

    They have specified that you cannot leave home without a reasonable excuse. Holidays are not listed as such (the exception to allow return home simply removes potential claims that you “have” to stay in a nice 5-star for another 4 weeks, and similar)

    Whether any “relevant person” will be at the checkin desk or airport entrance asking why you are travelling is debatable. They could be, and can direct you to return home if not satisfied (and of course, if your home is abroad, you would then continue to do so)

    Being in – and remaining at – a second home would seem fine. Whether “I fancy a week in my castle in Scotland” will win you any sympathy after being stopped for speeding on an unusually empty M6 is not something I’d personally put to the test…but I don’t own said castle so won’t be doing so anyway.

    Returning to where I started. Travel cannot be banned outright while work travel, moving house etc is permitted. Of course that opens up grey areas. But please play nice, people, or lockdown v3 may be more draconian.

  • Jessiefan says:

    This thread should be shut down, it serves no purpose.

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