Non-essential travel is banned while the coronavirus lockdown is in place.
Lockdowns in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland mean the entire UK is under a ‘stay home’ order. The UK Government is due to review England’s lockdown this week and will set out its roadmap a week later on February 22 for easing restrictions.
The lockdown easing roadmap is likely to see schools open at first, which could happen two weeks after the announcement, followed by retail and then hospitality.
When the lockdown was announced, the Government indicated it will be replaced by a tier system similar to the regional regulations in place across England before the lockdown. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated it will be replaced by a national approach, which would see everybody in England placed under the same rules, which would be relaxed over time.
That would put all of England under the same rules for travel, in contrast the tier system, which allowed people more freedom if they were in the lower tier areas.
On Monday February 15, a new quarantine order comes into force, which requires Brits returning home from 33 countries to isolate in a hotel room for 10 days, which means another change to travel rules and regulations.
With spring and summer approaching, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is too early to consider holidays. But that hasn’t stopped thousands – including Health Secretary Matt Hancock -from booking breaks.
As England looks ahead to its relaxation of lockdown, here are the lockdown travel rules for essential journeys, where you can go in lockdown and how the shutdown affects trips in the North East, England, UK and abroad.
When you can leave your home and when you can leave your local area in lockdown
While the lockdown is in place, you must not leave your home unless it is for an essential reason. These include work, if you can not from home; exercise once a day; shopping for essentials like food; care responsibilities and attending a funeral.
When you do leave your home, for an essential reason, you must stay in the village, town or part of a city where you live, unless it is necessary to further (like for work or a childcare responsibility).
Lockdown Guidance states: “If you need to travel you should stay local. This means you should avoid travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live. You should reduce the number of journeys you make overall.”
If you do leave your area, you should not stay away from overnight unless you are visiting a support bubble, are unable to return home, are moving house or accommodation to attend a funeral/wedding or for work purposes.
When travelling on public transport, maintain social distancing and wear a face-covering unless you are exempt. Only use public transport for essential journeys.
How far can I travel for exercise?
Lockdown guidance states that you should not leave the area you live to exercise in another area. Don’t drive from Newcastle to Tynemouth to exercise on the beach, for example, but travelling a short distance to an open space, like a park, is acceptable.
The guidance states: “You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
On exercise, the guidance adds: “This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
How far can cyclists go for exercise in the lockdown?
For cyclists, who often travel great distances to exercise, the guidance is not clear.
British Cycling says the ‘stay local’ definition in the lockdown guidelines is “restrictive” and is seeking further clarification from the Government. In the meantime, British Cycling advises cyclists to ride alone and as local as they can.
British Cycling says: “We know many of you will want to know what is meant by ‘staying local’. The Government’s definition of this is stated as ‘your village, town or the part of a city where you live’.
“We understand that this definition is particularly restrictive for cycling, and we are working to seek further clarification on this. On Thursday 14 January we wrote to the Government alongside “British Triathlon and Cycling UK following the continued confusion over this matter, and we hope to provide an update shortly.
“In the meantime, we recommend that you follow the advice to stay local, ride well within your ability and ensure that you are self-sufficient.”
As with all exercise during the lockdown, cyclists should ask themselves if the bike ride they are going on is essential, or if they could exercise in another way closer to home. However, cycling as a transport method for essential travel is encouraged.
Can I travel around the North East to shop?
Essentially, if you can shop on a street or supermarket near you, do so. But if you need to travel a distance to get an item which is essential, then trips can be justified.
Lockdown guidelines state you can leave home for the purpose of “buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible”.
Can I travel from England to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and abroad?
No, you must stay in your immediate area, unless you need to travel for essential reasons like work. Holidays are effectively banned, as is travelling between the UK’s four nations, unless you have a reasonable excuse.
Will lockdown be over before summer holidays?
It looks likely that the lockdown – as it is now – will be scaled down by Easter. If all goes to plan, schools will open on March 8, followed by retailers and then hospitality. That could likely include a relaxation of the rules which would allow some travel within England and the UK. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it is still too early to book summer holidays, although many have, including Matt Hancock, who has booked a trip to Cornwall. But the Health Secretary encouraged Brits to be patient about summer breaks.
“I know that people are yearning for certainty over whether they can have a summer holiday, but pandemics are difficult times and there is a lot of uncertainty so I am afraid that people will have to be patient before we can get that certainty,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“We are doing everything that we possibly can to make sure that people can have a holiday this summer but the vaccine rollout is absolutely essential to that.
“We will set out more in more detail when we can, but at the moment unfortunately there is that uncertainty still.”
The UK has banned both domestic and overseas leisure travel, but there is nothing to stop people booking a trip in the hope that restrictions will be lifted by their departure date.
Will I get my money back if I book a holiday I cannot go on?
This depends on a number of factors, such as the type of trip and the reason for the cancellation.
What happens if a travel company cancels a holiday?
You should be due a refund, but last year many customers struggled to get their money back.
What are the Covid-19 refund rules for package holidays?
People who book a package holiday – usually flights and accommodation – have the strongest protection.
They are entitled to a refund under consumer law if their trip is cancelled or significantly changed.
How long will I have to wait for a refund?
Legally, refunds for flights and package holidays should be paid within seven days and 14 days respectively.
But many consumers have been forced to wait several months.
Should I accept a voucher?
Many travel firms struggling with their cash flow have offered vouchers or refund credit notes as an alternative to cash refunds.
Accepting them will help companies survive the pandemic, but consumers are advised to check they are financially protected.
What happens if I am unable to travel because of lockdown?
The Competition and Markets Authority says you should be refunded.
But many companies view the law differently, with some airlines and accommodation providers only offering vouchers in this instance.
What if I just decide I do not want to travel due Covid-19 pandemic?
If you think that might happen you should make a flexible booking.
Several major airlines and travel companies have removed their fees for changing dates up to a certain time before departure.
Many accommodation providers such as Airbnb are also offering refundable bookings.
What happens if a travel firm goes bust?
People who have booked a package holiday would be entitled to a full refund through the Atol scheme.
Those with other bookings would likely need to try to obtain their money back through their credit or debit card provider.
-- to www.chroniclelive.co.uk