Essential travel abroad: How can you legally leave the country during lockdown?

ALL travel corridors with the UK are currently suspended – and quarantine hotels are set to get the green light.

With holidays on hold for many during the Covid pandemic, can you still legally leave the country?

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Can I legally travel abroad during lockdown?

People living in the UK are currently mostly banned from travelling abroad – so holidays are barred.

“You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so,” the government says.

“This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.”

You can only travel internationally (or within the UK) where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home.

People can only travel abroad for essential reasons including:

  • Work that cannot be done from home
  • Medical appointments
  • Educational reasons

Also, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office "recognises some people may have essential family and/or business travel," reports The Points Guy.

The website adds: "If you have a family emergency and need to urgently care for a loved one when no one else can, this could be considered essential travel."

Under England's third national lockdown, the government rules say "you must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives".

Emergency border measures have been in place since January 18, 2021, to block the spread of new coronavirus variants into the UK.

The government suspended all travel corridors to protect Brits from mutant Covid strains from Brazil and South Africa.

"We’re in a race against viral evolution," writes Sarah Otto, evolutionary biology at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

"We must roll out vaccines as quickly as possible, stem the flow of variants by restricting interactions and travel, and get in front of spread by ramping up surveillance and contact tracing," she advises.

Jobs that qualify for travel exemptions

Hauliers travelling from Portugal are not covered by the travel ban and are permitted to travel to the UK.

Other jobs that may avoid the travel restrictions under the lockdown include:

  • Aerospace engineers
  • Aircraft pilots and crew
  • BBC broadcasting transmission network and services
  • Border security duties – UK (and non-UK) officials and contractors
  • Bus and coach drivers
  • Channel Tunnel system workers
  • Civil aviation inspectors
  • Clinical trials or studies
  • Crown servants or government contractors
  • Data infrastructure maintenance
  • Defence personnel, visiting forces and government contractors
  • Diplomatic missions, international organisations and conferences
  • Downstream oil facility workers
  • Drivers of goods vehicles
  • Electronic communications networks
  • Elite sportspersons – international & domestic
  • Eurotunnel workers
  • International prison escorts
  • Medical evacuation and/or treatment
  • Nuclear personnel
  • Offshore oil and gas workers
  • Postal workers involved in the transport of mail into and out of the UK
  • Registered health or care professionals
  • People who live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week
  • Regular work in the UK, living abroad
  • Representatives of a foreign country or territory or British overseas territories
  • Seasonal agricultural & poultry workers
  • Water supplies and sewerage services workers

What are the latest rules on travelling abroad?

Many countries have closed their borders to UK travellers due to our new variant of the virus.

So it would pay to check their latest rules before booking a flight as UK-based airlines have suspended flights to these destinations.

US President Joe Biden – for example – is set to reimpose America's travel ban on the UK and the EU due to fears of the infectious mutant coronavirus.

Plus, the UK government has banned all direct flights to South Africa because of fears of a second variant of the coronavirus.

If you are in the UK you should not travel abroad unless you have a legally permitted reason to leave home.

Most people travelling to the UK from overseas need proof of a negative coronavirus test result.

"Tests with at least 97 per cent specificity and 80 per cent sensitivity are accepted.

"This could include PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests – which are sent to a lab – or lateral flow and Lamp tests, which can give results in an hour," explains the BBC.

You need to have taken the test during the three days before you travel home.

The proof must be in English, French or Spanish.

You must provide the proof to the company you’re travelling with – for example, the airline, ferry company or train operator.

Be warned – those failing to comply risk seeing their airline or carrier possibly refusing boarding and/or they may be fined on arrival.

Also, before you return to the UK, you must provide your journey and contact details.

This means filling in your passenger locator form online before you arrive in the UK.

You can submit this form any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK.

All travellers – including British nationals – must self-isolate for ten days upon arriving in the UK, even with a recent negative test result.

Can I be fined for breaking travel rules?

Border Force officials are carrying out spot checks on those arriving in the UK.

Anyone caught out for failing to comply with mandatory Covid testing faces being hit with an immediate £500 fine.

And those found failing to complete a passenger locator form will be subject to an increased fine of £500, warns the government.

The Prime Minister explained: "If you come to this country you must have proof of negative covid tests that you have taken in 72hrs before leaving and you must have filled in passenger locator form and airline will ask for proof of both.

"Upon arrival you must quarantine for 10 days not leaving for any reason, or take a test on day 5 and wait for proof of negative result."

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