When can Brits travel abroad?
Holidaymakers face £5,000 fine for overseas travel before ban lifts
British holidaymakers face a £5,000 fine if they travel abroad without good reason, as part of new coronavirus laws coming into effect next week.
Under the new legislation, leaving the UK will only be allowed for those with a “reasonable excuse”, such as work, education or to visit sick and dying family members, until 30 June.
The Times reports the new rules won’t stop a global travel review next month, but was intended “to stop people travelling before 17 May”, which would be allowed under current plans, according to a government source.
“It will interact with the government’s Global Travel Taskforce, which reports on 12 April”, the source told the paper.
But the government could face a rebellion over the new plans, due to be voted on by MPs on Thursday, as unhappy backbenchers warn of adverse effects to the tourism industry. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee, said a longer ban could “devastate” millions of workers reliant on tourism.
The tighter border restrictions come as Boris Johnson warns of a third wave of coronavirus in Europe that could “wash up on our shores”. The country should be “under no illusion” that it will feel the effects of a rising number of cases on the continent, he told journalists on Monday.
At the weekend, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace recommended waiting until mid-April before planning a foreign break.
“I haven’t booked my holiday,” the cabinet minister told The Andrew Marr Show. “I think it would be premature to do that. It would be potentially risky. We’re seeing growing variants.”
The government’s Global Travel Taskforce is due to give its recommendations on reopening international travel in a report on 12 April, after which the government will decide when foreign holidays will be allowed, which will be no earlier than 17 May.
Asked if the travel ban could go on beyond then, Wallace told Marr: “I’m not going to rule anything in or out. We are not going to do anything that puts at risk the national effort to control the pandemic.”
On Sunday night, there were “signs the cabinet was split over the timetable for reopening international travel”, reports The Times, with one member apparently questioning the government’s pessimism in light of the successful vaccination programme.
Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, is said to be “particularly nervous about the consequences of lifting restrictions too quickly”, says the Financial Times.
The newspaper reports that ministers are considering plans for a “traffic light” system with stricter limits for riskier “red” countries.
The US, Israel and Singapore could be on the “green list” owing to their high vaccination levels, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Europe is currently facing a third wave of coronavirus, with France and Poland returning to a fresh form of lockdown. The Telegraph adds that scientists are also concerned that European countries “do not have the same ‘gold standard’ Covid-19 gene sequencing as the UK to enable them to effectively identify new variants, which could hold those countries back from being put on the green list”.