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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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  • Tom says:

    Myself (Aus passport) and wife and son (UK passport holders) were planning a 2 month trip back to Aus to see my parents as our son has just been born over here. We have got all the exemptions to enter Australia (have to quarantine for 2 weeks in a hotel).

    Do you think we can still legally leave the country to do this? From what I read here it seems to be safe we either need to say we are viewing a house aboard or I should get my company to say I will be working over there for X months (which I can do possibly)? Who would actually be policing this at the airport check-in staff??

    • Rob says:

      Airport staff don’t care. Only risk is that the police stop you between your house and check-in.

      • Chris Heyes says:

        Rob sweeping statement how can you possibly know that “not one” Airport staff don’t care lol unless of course you’ve spoken to everyone lol

        • Blenz101 says:

          Staff employed by the airport have zero power to enforce anything and as the airline is under no obligation to obtain the reason for your journey check in staff will only care you meet the entry requirements of your destination country.

          Biggest risk really is you get stranded abroad for an extended period as more and more flights are cancelled.

          As I said earlier, I also think travelling to the airport is not zero risk unless you have a legitimate reason. Having a wife and kid with you is making it pretty obvious you aren’t going for a business trip.

    • Rich says:

      Visiting family. No. Talking a laptop so you can do some work. No. Pretending to view a house. No.

      This is not one of those situations where lying or finding a loophole is clever. Stay at home like you’re supposed to. Like other people are. Or fly out today!

      • pigeon says:

        Yes very clever, if you (foolishly) believe in stopping the virus in the UK then letting Tom go to Australia is obviously a worse option than keeping him here and having him host dinner parties every weekend.

        I don’t see why Tom can’t move to Australia if he wants to?

      • Anon says:

        Why?? In what way is Tom endangering anyone else? They are complying with Aussie regulations, so there is limited risk to people down under.

        The UK law aims to minimise infections from socialising in the UK and as many have pointed out, the list of legal exclusions is not exhaustive. It seems to me, that the Dominic Cummings principle applies and after taking a view on the likely risks, Tom has no reason not to fly.

      • Rob says:

        And the difference between flying today and tomorrow is?

        • Rich says:

          Well, for one thing, it’s allowed! Having a cut off date reduces the number of people who can/ will travel, so it reduces movement, interactions, and transmission. A lockdown only has an effect if people are everyone’s pulling in the same direction at the same time.

          • Always_in_the_air says:

            I find it interesting how many people are ok to travel.

            From my experience people follow rules
            for a number of reasons, the key one being; when the rules are deemed fair, if the rule is restrictive that restriction is proportionate, or if the punishment is so gross that the reward does not exceed the punishment.

            In the case of a proposed travel ban, people clearly do not agree with the first two points and are happy to risk the relatively minor punishment for the potential reward.

            In summary, it is all a good indicator that the rule makers have not found the right balance.

          • Yuff says:

            So on that basis it’s safer to travel tomorrow as there will be less people travelling……..

          • Josh says:

            When we look back at history, a lot of things were allowed that aren’t allowed now and vice versa.

    • David says:

      @Tom, when did you book your flights? Do you have to pay for quarantine?

      Me and the wife (both have Aus passports) were planning to go back to Aus for 6 months and stay in our home there but aren’t so keen on the $4000 quarantine fee! Though with what looks like non stop ineffectual lockdowns here, it’s almost looking worth it!

  • Pierre says:

    Anyone to confirm whether banks will remain open? I remember they had reduced hours in March, but can’t find any info on the BBC

  • Will says:

    Me and my wife are planning to travel to Hong Kong to attend a relatives wedding. I think this is under exception 8.

    • Harry T says:

      Depends if it’s “reasonably necessary”!

      • 747_Brat says:

        I am travelling in a couple of week’s time for my own wedding. Hope BJ considers it “reasonably necessary”! 😁

      • Callum says:

        And is a marriage in Hong Kong “in accordance with the Marriage (Registrar General’s Licence) Act 1970(a);”?

        • Callum says:

          It also specifies that there must be less than 6 guests. The rule is obviously written with UK weddings in mind, but technically, I don’t think the exemption applies to you.

          Whether you care or not is another matter. The biggest thing I’ve noticed since moving back to the UK is the government/police seem to have very little interest in actually enforcing these laws – there will presumably therefore be nothing physically stopping you.

          • Will says:

            I think part 3 of the regulation (gatherings) cannot be enforced upon us the wedding is in a foreign place, I am just trying to understand whether ‘attending my close relatives wedding’ is a good enough reason to leave my house

  • Brian says:

    The laws were voted for by a huge majority in parliament. Parliamentary sovereignty in action rather than the mandates from Johnson previously 👍

    • Nick_C says:

      “The laws were voted for by a huge majority in parliament”

      SIs are always subject to parliamentary approval. Parliament can accept the SI or reject it. The only difference on this occasion is that the SI was approved before taking effect instead of up to four weeks afterwards, as is usually the case.

      (The other difference is that delaying the implementation so it could be debated in the Chamber means another couple of hundred thousand people may have been infected. Although I agree in principle that the Government sidesteps the Commons too often, I don’t think The Speaker was correct to put the sovereignty of The Commons above the need to act quickly on this issue. There will be plenty of other less urgent matters on which he can remind the Government that they are accountable to Parliament.)

      The Coronavirus Regulations are not made by Boris Johnson. They are made by Matt Hancock. SIs are always made by the appropriate Minister.

  • Paula says:

    Lots of rumours on BA Flyer talk that BA will go cargo only for lockdown period, so no essential travel available at all, any views on this rumour likely?

    • Rob says:

      It seems to be true. I just can’t prove it.

      10 short haul flights per day I was told by a half-decent source.

      It’s not clear if passengers will be thrown off long haul flights.

      • Paula says:

        That’s a shame how are you supposed to travel for work then? I can still see a flight I need from LHR to Madrid thought that would be ok! Will Iberia go the same way do you think?

      • Paula says:

        10 short haul flights all cargo only then?

        • Rob says:

          The source said those would be passenger flights. But who really knows? Sure it will come out soon. Rumour is that the Government is involved because, ironically, it wants more flights.

          • Paula says:

            Thanks hope they keep the big cities on then. Why is HMG involved how ironic!
            Do you think Iberia will keep a skeleton short haul schedule?

  • John says:

    What about travel by a foreign national into the UK? I live in the US, and my long-term girlfriend is in London right now for university so I’ve been visiting her once a month for the past few months. I have a flight booked to see her next weekend (just Sat – Monday). One of the exceptions in the law for allowable reasons to leave one’s home is to meet with a linked household / support bubble. I can’t find anything that says your bubble can’t be in a different country. I would be quarantining at her apartment for the duration of my stay as required by the quarantine rules, so wouldn’t be going outside in any way that would break lockdown rules further. Presumably I’d be allowed to leave the UK, as per “returning home”.

    My bigger concern is getting in. How likely is it that I’d be denied entry to the UK on Saturday? Any chance AA would even deny me boarding on the way there?

    • Anna says:

      There’s no restriction on inbound travel. Of course airlines might cancel flights if they think loads will be too low, but you won’t be denied entry if you can get here.

      • C says:

        Same question. I have family scheduled to arrive from overseas for a long-delayed visit (and from countries with higher COVID levels than England). Self-isolation for the required period is understood, and by the time the isolation period ends it will be after 2 December. The question is whether they are likely to face any issues entering the UK (flights are not on BA).

        • Blenz101 says:

          There is no Covid related inbound travel restriction to the UK. If they are able to get a flight into the country and follow the 14 day isolation then they are fine.

          There seems to be a growing consensus that further restrictions will come in after 2nd December (as a minimum back to the Tier system) so localised movement restrictions may also subsequently apply to them once they are here.

          They should also consider if they will be easily able to leave if flights do become cargo only in the weeks ahead as well as restrictions their home country may apply.

  • Bill Carson says:

    Just got an email from BA saying all lounges are closed for my flight on Friday. No word if they’ll be cancelling the flight though, but Rob’s tweet seem to think it’d be from Sunday onwards, so maybe I’ll just sneak in (or out, depending on your point of view).

  • Sukes says:

    Plaza Premium website states its LHR T2 and T5 dep lounges (i think its only LHR lounges reopened during Covid) will close from tomorrow 5 Nov.

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