Can I go on holiday from the UK?

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Latest coronavirus figures from the UK make for grim reading. 

An extra 50,023 cases were announced by the government on December 30th, the second highest daily figure since the pandemic began. 

A new, highly-transmissible variant of Covid-19 that was first detected in the south of England is being partially blamed for the rapid rise. 

Still, some people will still no doubt be wondering whether they can go on holiday at the moment, whether they actually plan to travel or not. 

The answer is mixed. 

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The UK has not closed its borders entirely. But depending on where you live, you may fall foul of the law if you attempt to go overseas. 

If you live in one of England’s tier 4 areas, which tens of millions of people do, the government says you can only travel internationally, or even within the UK, if you first have a legally permitted reason. When it comes to international travel, pretty much the only permitted reason is for work which cannot be done from home. If it’s travel within the UK, that includes work, education, childcare, medical care, and some other reasons. Read the full tier 4 guidelines here

If you live in England’s tiers 1, 2 or 3, you are discouraged, though not legally prevented, from travelling abroad or within the UK. The government says you should “carefully consider” whether your journey is necessary. Read the guidelines for tiers 3, 2 and 1

You should also bear in mind that your tier could change at any point, and it will be the rules at the time of travel that apply, not the rules at the time you booked your trip. 

In Wales, the situation is similar. If your area is at alert level 4 or alert level 3, you must not travel internationally without a “reasonable excuse”. If your area is at alert levels 2 or 1, there is no mention of international travel made in the guidelines, but again the advice is to stay home unless necessary. 

In Scotland, all areas are now at level 4 and 3. That means people are “required to stay in that area unless they have a reasonable excuse to travel, such as work, education, or welfare reasons – see travelling around Scotland. Non-essential travel, such as going on holiday, is not a reasonable excuse to leave a level 3 or 4 area.” 

Northern Ireland is entering a six-week lockdown from December 26th. The legal regulations primarily relate to the closure of businesses and banning of gatherings, but all international travel is against the official guidance. 

Remember, if you are travelling overseas, you still need to check the latest entry restrictions. Many countries have banned visitors from the UK, or require a negative PCR test to be presented on arrival. 

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