Can I travel abroad during lockdown? The current rules on travel from the UK

The rules have changed since the lockdown for England was announced on November 5.
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  • Holidays, trips to visit family and for business have all been disrupted this year, first in the initial March lockdown and then subsequently, as more restrictions have been put in place. So can you travel abroad during this lockdown?

    The November lockdown rules have meant that once again, millions of us are scurrying onto our airline websites to find out if we can still travel abroad, go on holiday or make an essential trip out of the UK over the next month or so. 

    It’s especially concerning now that more countries are being re-added to the quarantine list, which were recently removed and confirmed to be safe. One of these was Denmark, which was initially removed from the safe-list in October before being put back on later in the month. Sweden and Germany have removed from the no-quarantine list most recently, as has Denmark after a different strain of coronavirus was found on the country’s mink farms. 

    Denmark has announced that they are set to cull the population to minimise the spread but a high alert level for the country has been issued. 

    But what about other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world? While we’re all clear on the lockdown exercise rules, if you’re asking, “Can I travel abroad during the UK lockdown?” then this is everything you need to know about the new rules which came into effect on November 5. 

    Can I travel abroad from England during the lockdown?

    In the lockdown rules announced by Boris Johnson for England, travelling away from home is restricted on all levels, whether internally or internationally, except in limited circumstances such as for work or for education. 

    This means that travelling abroad for a holiday is not allowed under any circumstances and those found to be travelling for this purpose are likely to face penalties for doing so, either in England or in the country that they’re travelling to.  

    But while this means you can travel abroad during the lockdown from England for work or education, it doesn’t mean that you should – or that it’s going to be an easy ride. The Foregin, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has warned that disruption to international travel is expected throughout the world as other countries are likely to have new measures in place. This could be anything from full border closures to movement restrictions or severe quarantining measures.

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stressed the need for reduced international travel in a post on Twitter which read, ‘In line with the new COVID-19 guidance, travel outside of home, with the exception of a limited number of reasons including work or education, is not permitted during lockdown. #TRAVELCORRIDORS do remain critical to the Government’s COVID-19 response, keeping imported cases DOWN.’ 

    Before saying that no more countries would be added to the safe list this week, he wrote, ‘We are removing SWEDEN and GERMANY from the Travel Corridor list. From 4am Saturday 7th November, if you arrive into the UK from these destinations you will need to follow the UK self-isolation rules. All arriving passengers should complete a passenger locator form on arrival.’

    In further guidance on travelling during the lockdown, the FCDO has also advised that anyone looking to travel abroad in the near future should expect to stay in the country longer than planned, as there’s likely to be restrictions in place. 

    So at least until December 2, when the 3-tier system comes back into play, trying to avoid travelling abroad at all costs is best but if travel does become necessary, it’s important to check when you should self-isolate on the government’s quarantine list. 

    Can I travel abroad under tier 3?

    Localised lockdowns will be back on the table after the new tier system comes into place from December 2 and depending on the tier you’re in, there will be social and travel restrictions.

    In tier 2, you’re allowed to travel only with members of your household or support bubble but you should avoid travelling into areas in a different tier than you – such as tier 3, where levels of coronavirus are higher. In tier 3, travel isn’t permitted at all unless it’s for education or work and hotels, along with many types of holiday accommodation are closed.

    When asking ‘can i travel abroad during the UK  lockdown?’ it’s also important to think about whether travelling, even if you’re in tiers 1 or 2, is necessary. Largely the government has advised people to stay at home where possible, even when the tier system begins again on December 2 to stop the spread of coronavirus.

    The student travel window, so-called as it’s the week when the government have encouraged students to return home for Christmas, is operating when these new restrictions will be in place but it’s not thought that the tiered measures will affect this.

    Can I travel abroad from Scotland?

    woman researching 'can I travel abroad during the UK lockdown?'

    Credit: Getty

    Scotland is not currently in a full lockdown like England and instead, is working under a 4 tier system, so most people can travel abroad from Scotland at the moment. 

    However, those coming back into the country from somewhere outside of the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 full days in line with Scotland’s own restrictions. This includes those who have come into Scotland from abroad via another UK country, by coach, connecting flight or train for instance. 

    Scotland has their own no-quarantine list that differs from England’s so anyone coming back from one of the countries has to self-isolate for two full weeks. Before they return, all passengers have to complete an online passenger locator form before they travel and offer contact details, travel details and the address of where they’ll be self-isolating. 

    Can I travel abroad from Wales?

    Currently, Wales is in a firebreak – otherwise known as a circuit breaker – lockdown. This means that the ‘stay at home’ order has been issued for Wales and until November 9, those living in Wales are not allowed to travel abroad. 

    The restrictions on when residents can leave the house only extends to essential trips for food, medicine or household maintenance. People can also go outside to exercise, access childcare, medical services and visit the bank, among other vital activities. This doesn’t include going abroad – whether that be for education, a business visit or a holiday. 

    Those living in Wales have also been told that when they leave home, they should minimise the time spent away from home and to ensure that a 2 metre distance is maintained from anyone they don’t live with or are in a support bubble with. 

    This means that travelling abroad from Wales to somewhere in Europe or beyond is definitely off the table for the time being, but restrictions will be lifted from November 9 as the government announces further measures to keep the rate of coronavirus down. For more information on the Welsh firebreak lockdown, check out the government’s website.

    group set to travel abroad during UK lockdown

    Credit: Getty

    Can I travel abroad from Northern Ireland?

    Much like Scotland, Northern Ireland is not currently in lockdown and so national restrictions do allow for travel outside of the country. 

    However, anyone leaving Northern Ireland to travel internationally must adhere to quarantining measures and be sure to check the restrictions on the country they are visiting – both for when they arrive and when they return back into Northern Ireland. 

    The government has advised residents in Northern Ireland to carefully consider whether an international trip during this time is worth it as well. On a statement on their website, they’ve said, “You should carefully consider your holiday and travel options, in light of the continuing COVID-19 threat. A ‘staycation’ is one way of mitigating the risks – while also supporting the local economy. If you’re holidaying abroad, you may have to self-isolate for a period of 14 days on your return home – depending on which country you have visited.”

    So if you were asking “can I travel abroad during lockdown UK?” after the new rules were announced, it seems as though if you live in England or Wales then it’s a firm no for now. But those living in Scotland and Northern Ireland are allowed to travel internationally for the time being.