A ban on leaving the UK without a reasonable excuse is about to come into force in England lasting until at least early May.
Leaving the country "without a reasonable excuse" will not be allowed under new Covid-19 restrictions coming into force from next week.
The legislation for restrictions over the coming months, as the Government sets out its roadmap for coming out of lockdown, was published this week (Monday 22).
Entitled the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 it includes £5,000 fines imposed on anyone breaking restrictions.
According to the legal document: "The Regulations also impose restrictions on leaving the United Kingdom without a reasonable excuse (regulation 8)."
The regulations will come into force on Monday, March 29 and will replace the previous tier system with a series of "steps", following the proposed dates of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown for England.
Step 1, from March 29, six people can meet outdoors but restricts indoor gatherings of two or more people. Some outdoor sports will be permitted.
Step 2, no earlier than April 12, is when non-essential shops might reopen as well as businesses like hairdressers and hospitality venues serving customers outside. Weddings and funerals could then have up to 15 people.
Step 3, no earlier than May 17, will allow groups of six to meet inside and up to 30 people outside.
The rules must be reviewed by the Government every 35 days to ensure that they remain relevant.
The laws expire on June 30, unless they are scrapped or amended in the meantime.
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What is the new travel ban?
The law says no-one may "leave England to travel to a destination outside the United Kingdom, or travel to, or be present at, an embarkation point for the purpose of travelling from there to a destination outside the United Kingdom" without a reasonable excuse.
What is the punishment for breaking the rules?
The legislation suggests anyone who breaks such rules could face a £5,000 fine.
There is also a £200 fixed penalty notice for failing to fill in a travel declaration form – giving person details and reason for travel – for those planning to leave the UK.
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What are the 'reasonable excuses' needed to leave the UK from March 29?
The following 14 reasons you would need to leave the UK are by no means exhaustive and some ask for extra requirements to be met, so seek further guidance if you're unsure.
However, the following list does provide an overview of "reasonable excuses" you would need to travel out of the UK.
- To travel to any destination in the common travel area – the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands (unless that destination is not final destination).
- For the purposes of work if it is not reasonably possible to work from a location within the UK.
- To provide voluntary or charitable services where it is not reasonably possible for those services to be provided from a location within the UK.
- If you're enrolled on a course of study at an institution outside the UK on or after the laws come into force. Or in you're at at an education institution inside the UK but need to travel EITHER to satisfy one or more of that course's requirements, OR to return home after March 29 but before April 29 2021 (i.e. the Easter Holiday) for the purposes of a vacation.
- If you're an elite sportsperson or coach of an elite sportsperson, or (in the case of an elite sportsperson who is under the age of 18), a parent of the elite sportsperson and it's reasonably necessary to leave the UK for the purposes of training or competition.
- If it's necessary to fulfil a legal obligation or to participate in legal proceedings.
- To undertake the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property (further rules apply).
- If it is reasonably necessary to seek medical assistance, to attend a clinical appointment, or to avoid illness, injury or to escape a risk of harm. Or to attend the birth of a child or to visit a person receiving treatment in a hospital or staying in a hospice or care home, or to accompany them to a medical appointment (further rules apply).
- To provide care and assistance to a vulnerable person, to provide emergency assistance to any person, to visit a person you reasonably believe is dying, or to attend a funeral (further rules apply).
- To attend a wedding or a civil partnership ceremony where you or a close family member is the person getting married AND one or both of the persons getting married or becoming civil partners live outside the United Kingdom.
- For arranging access and contact between parents and a child where the child does not live in the same country to either one or both parents. Or for contact arrangements between siblings who do not live in the same country (further rules apply). This also includes for those adopting children (including their household) to arrange to meet a child or children who may be placed with them.
- To vote in an election or a referendum being held outside the UK where it is not possible to vote in the United Kingdom.
- If you're only in the United Kingdom on a temporary basis and not resident in the UK.
- If you're a child or dependent of a person who has a reasonable excuse to travel outside the UK and it is not possible for alternative arrangements to be made for care.