On 22 February, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced the government’s roadmap to “cautiously” ease lockdown restrictions in England. In it, he detailed four steps with a minimum of five weeks between each step.
Many Brits keen to escape their own homes watched keenly to see what this meant for travel, both within the UK and abroad.
Here’s what we know so far affecting would-be domestic and international travellers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland…
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What are the key dates for travel within England?
At the moment, it is illegal to travel for leisure within England and stay at home restrictions are in place.
The legal requirement to stay at home is set to be lifted on 29 March but the guidance says that: “People should continue to minimise travel wherever possible, and should not be staying away from home overnight at this stage.”
As part of step two of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than 12 April, it was announced that:
- Self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can reopen. These will be limited to one household only.
- Most outdoor attractions and settings, such as zoos and theme parks, will be able to open on this date too – but social contact rules will apply.
- Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only. Customers must order, eat and drink while seated but there will be no need to order a substantial meal with alcohol and no curfew as there has been previously.
As part of step three of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than 17 May:
- The rest of the accommodation sector can open – for example, hotels, B&Bs and hostels. But, indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply (subject to review).
- Most social contact rules will be lifted outdoors, although gatherings of more than 30 people will be illegal.
- Indoor hospitality and entertainment venues can reopen.
As part of step four of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than 21 June:
- It is hoped that all legal limits of social contact can be removed.
- The remaining closed setting can be re-opened – including nightclubs, theatre performances and large events.
What about travel within the rest of the UK?
The roadmap announced by Boris Johnson was for England only, and restrictions across the rest of the UK may vary. So, always check the restrictions where you are a resident as well as where you’d like to travel to.
On 23 February, Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, announced her “phased and careful approach” to lifting restrictions in Scotland.
The stay at home guidance in Scotland will be in place until at least early April, with 5 April the earliest possible date of its being lifted. This is three weeks after the second phase of school reopening.
A minimum of three weeks after this (26 April), there will be a return to Scotland’s “levels approach” with all of Scotland moving to at least level three, with some possible adjustments.
Under current level three restrictions holiday accommodation in Scotland can stay open but tourists should not travel into or out of a level three area for a holiday or visits. Those living in a level three area can use the holiday accommodation in their area but should not stay in self-catered accommodation with another household.
In Wales, lockdown restrictions were extended for another three weeks on 19 February, with minor changes being made on 20 February. The national measures in Wales are reviewed at least every three weeks.
In Northern Ireland, stay at home restrictions are in place until at least 1 April with a review due on 18 March. A pathway to recovery plan is set to be published on 1 March.
What was announced for international travel?
It was announced that restrictions on international travel from England will not be lifted until at least stage three of its roadmap, which will be no earlier than May 17.
Before this date, a successor to the Global Travel Taskforce will produce a report on 12 April with recommendations to help a return to international travel as soon as possible. Following this report, the government will determine when international travel can resume.
In its recent Covid-19 response documentation, it says: “The decision on when international travel can resume will be dependent on the global and domestic epidemiological picture, the prevalence and location of any Variants of Concern, the progress of vaccine rollouts here and abroad, and what more the government has learned about the efficacy of vaccines on variants, and the impact on transmission, hospitalisation and deaths.”
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— to www.forbes.com