UK tightens overseas travel rules, warns holidaymakers of fines

Under the rules, anyone wanting to travel out of the UK must declare their reason for travel
Last Updated 28 January 2021, 14:52 IST

The UK government has further tightened its overseas travel measures and warned British holidaymakers that they could face fines of 200 pounds as their journeys do not fall within the coronavirus lockdown valid travel exceptions.

As part of measures laid out by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in the House of Commons on Wednesday, all outbound and inbound passengers will be expected to justify their reasons for travel as part of measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

She also confirmed a compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine requirements for any inbound passengers into the UK from high-risk "red list" countries with high rates of Covid infections and new variants are to be confirmed in the coming days.

"There are still too many people coming in and out of our country each day. The rules are clear – people should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave. Going on holiday is not a valid reason," said Patel.

"As we have done throughout this global health emergency, we will continue to take all steps necessary to protect the public and help prevent the spread of the virus," she said.

Under the rules, anyone wanting to travel out of the UK must declare their reason for travel. Anyone who does not have a valid reason for travel will be directed to return home and may face a fine, based on the reason given for travel and further checks.

The UK Home Office also confirmed increased enforcement, through greater police presence at ports and airports, fining those in breach of the stay at home regulations.

People attempting to enter the UK will be subject to “managed isolation in hotels”.

"This will be for those arriving from countries where we have imposed international travel bans and who cannot be refused entry. They will be required to isolate for 10 days without exception and more details will be provided in due course,” the Home Office said.

Meanwhile, police officials will continue carrying out more physical checks at addresses to make sure people are self-isolating.

"These new measures are on top of the restrictions already in place, all of which help reduce the risk of importing a new variant,” the Home Office added.

Foreign residents of the "red list" countries linked to new Covid variants are banned from coming to the UK, but Britons can return home from there. They will, however, now have to quarantine for 10 days in the government-approved hotels at a personal cost of up to 1,500 pounds once back in the UK.

All passengers arriving in the UK need to provide evidence of a negative pre-departure Covid test. There is also the requirement for people arriving from abroad to self-isolate on arrival, and the requirement to complete a passenger locator form, with fines for those who fail to comply.

The government said all measures will be kept under review and further action will be taken to protect the public if needed.

The additional restrictions come in amid concerns around deadlier and highly transmissible variants of Covid-19 detected in countries such as South Africa and Brazil. The list is expected to be expanded further in the coming days.

The devolved Scottish and Welsh governments, as well as Opposition Labour, want to extend quarantine hotels to all arrivals and not just those from the "red list".

(Published 28 January 2021, 14:52 IST)

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