The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in the United Kingdom, as both Scotland and England are to enter national lockdowns.
The move follows Wales (who have been in lockdown since the 20th December) and Northern Ireland going into lockdown, as well as responding to the situation the new variant of COVID and the pressure it is causing on the National Health Service.
So, what’s life going to be like In England?
The rules are being tightened from areas – with all areas moving into Tier 4 with laws coming in on Wednesday 6th January. As such, you must not leave or be outside of your home except where necessary. Examples where you can leave your home include:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare – for those eligible
Note, non-essential shops if they haven’t closed – will close.
A major change is that Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open. Higher Education provision will remain online until mid-February for all except future critical worker courses.
Regional travel is limited, with you not being to leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:
- work, where you cannot reasonably work from home
- accessing education and for caring responsibilities
- visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
- visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
- buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible
- outdoor exercise. 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)
- attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services
In terms of International Travel
You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider public health advice in the country you are visiting. If you do need to travel overseas (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.
Foreign nationals are subject to the ‘Stay at Home’ regulations. You should not travel abroad unless it is permitted. This means you must not go on holiday.
If you are visiting the UK, you may return home. You should check whether there are any restrictions in place at your destination.
Note, if you are inbound to the United Kingdom, there are some oddities that the Government have not addressed, including:
- No requirement for any COVID-19 test (PCR/AntiGen/etc) before travelling to the United Kingdom
- No passenger testing requirement for anyone on arrival into the country
- No mandatory airport testing airport screening, either on departure or on arrival.
The full guidance for England
The full guidance is at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/949536/NationalLockdownGuidance.pdf
Meanwhile in Scotland
Scotland will move into a Level 4 “Lockdown” from the 5th January. By law, in a level 4 area, you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose – with a legal stay at home order. Such purposes include:
Although you can leave home for these purposes, you should stay as close to home as possible. Shop on-line or use local shops and services wherever you can. Travel no further than you need to reach to a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a socially distanced way.
Examples of reasonable excuses to go out:
- for work or an activity associated with seeking employment, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from your home.
- for education including, school, college, university or other essential purposes connected with a course of study.
- for essential shopping, including essential shopping for a vulnerable person. You should use online shopping or shops and other services in your immediate area wherever you can.
- for healthcare, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
- for childcare or support services for parents or expectant parents.
- for essential services, including services of a charitable or voluntary nature such as food banks, alcohol or drug support services.
- to access public services where it is not possible to do so
Travelling in and out of Scotland
Travellers arriving in Scotland from certain countries and regions overseas may be required, by law, to quarantine by self-isolation for 10 days after arrival. See the list of countries to which this applies. The list is reviewed frequently against the evidence available and it changes from time to time. They must stay in the place in Scotland that they are residing (with the exception if resident on the islands remaining in Level 3) unless travelling for essential purposes.
If you travel back from a country, to which the quarantine rule applies, to another part of the UK, but your final destination is Scotland, you must follow the rules that are in place in Scotland.
At present people who live in Scotland must not undertake any non-essential overseas travel
Under current Scottish law, given the state of the epidemic, unless you have a reasonable excuse (see exceptions) you must not travel between Scotland and:
- Northern Ireland
- Republic of Ireland
- The Isle of Man
Full advice for Scotland
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