With the announcement of London and the South East of England is to go into a Tier 4 Lockdown (as of 00:01 today), lets do a little more of a deep dive into what the travel restrictions mean to you.
Firstly, the full advice is at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home, which I strongly advise you read if you live or have need to go there over the festive period.
A reminder of the initial limits of Tier 4
If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must follow the rules below from Sunday 20 December. This means that you cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household. These rules will not be relaxed for Christmas.
Let’s look at the travel advice
International travel to or from a tier 4 area
If you are in Tier 4, you should not be travelling abroad unless it is permitted. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.
If you live outside a tier 4 area you may still transit into or through a tier 4 area to travel abroad if you need to, but you should carefully consider whether you need to do so. In addition, you should follow the public health advice in the country you’re visiting.
If you do need to travel overseas from a tier 4 area (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.
To break down the points:
- If you live in a Tier 4 area, you should not leave theareaunless it is for essential purposes.
- If you live outside a Tier 4 area and need to go to a Tier 4 area to leave the country (eg, Dover, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City), you can travel to these points, but you need to consider if you actually do.
- Check FCDO Travel advice, both ongoing and returning to the UK
- If you’re abroad, you do not need to return home straight away. Check with your airline/operator, however.
Staying away from home overnight
You cannot leave home for holidays or stays overnight away from your main home unless permitted by law. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.
You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you:
- are unable to return to your main residence
- need accommodation while moving house
- need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event
- require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services
- are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
- are homeless, seeking asylum or a vulnerable person seeking refuge
- are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the athlete is under 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition
If you are already on holiday in a Tier 4 area, you should return to your home as soon as practical.
To break down these points:
- No cheeky one-night aways unless it is for one of the reasons above.
- No escaping to your second home, caravan or another abode.
- No staying with people who are not in your support bubble.
How are airports and airlines reacting
Airports were quick to jump onto this.
Hi everyone – the latest government tier 4 travel guidance can be found here: https://t.co/iRkZvteZCf – if you have any questions we’d encourage you to contact your airline. And please stay safe ❤️
— London City Airport (@LondonCityAir) December 19, 2020
Following UK Govt. advice, if you are in Tier 4, you should not be travelling unless it is legally permitted. If you’re in Tiers 1-3, you can still fly from Heathrow but should carefully consider whether you need to. More information can be found here: https://t.co/hs1VeMNSrO pic.twitter.com/NdwdoFPo4H
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) December 19, 2020
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tier 4 restrictions, we are awaiting for UK Govt. to share guidance on international travel. If you have any concerns about your flight, please contact your airline who is best placed to provide the most up to date advice. pic.twitter.com/E8bE5Gs1Bw
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) December 19, 2020
In terms of Airlines, Virgin Atlantic have reacted. EasyJet is to operate is current schedule for now.
We’re aware of the latest restrictions in London and the South East, including an advisory against non-essential travel. For further information please visit our Latest Travel News: https://t.co/uW6jo8NWzd pic.twitter.com/zqaDHrP8QS
— virginatlantic (@VirginAtlantic) December 19, 2020
We plan to fly our current schedule over the coming days, however, we will contact customers directly if your flight is cancelled. For more info, please visit here: https://t.co/aNdFU5a59a pic.twitter.com/AhRpKagMXY
— easyJet (@easyJet) December 19, 2020
Check the regions
Both Wales and Scotland have enacted new rules, with Scotland applying ban on travel to the rest of the UK over the festive period, with only essitetnal travel allowed. Wales is to enter a from today too. If you live in Wales, you will be able to travel to meet one other household – and a single person household – on Christmas Day anywhere in Wales. You can also leave Wales to meet your household, but you must return by the end of the day.
Other parts of the country remain in Tier 1/Tier 2/Tier 3. These have limits on movements too.
Let’s be honest – no one wants to be in a Tier 4 situation, nor many people were planning for this (your author included who had plans to be elsewhere other than Birmingham this Christmas).
Expect changes ahead as everyone adapts again to being in a situation they don’t want to be in, with airlines reacting to reducing loads over the festive period.
And possibly beyond.
There is a stark warning from the UK FCDO as this went to publishing:
— Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (@FCDOGovUK) December 20, 2020
And indeed – those changes are live – Economy Class and Beyond is monitoring the situation. Latest updates can be found in Countries close their borders to travellers from the United Kingdom.
Editors note: I’ve tried to keep a lot of emotion out of this. Bear with me, please. It’s tougher than usual.
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