UK Bans All Leisure Travel With Latest Lockdown

Filed Under: Travel

As we see a rise in coronavirus cases in Europe, several countries are introducing new lockdowns. Germany announced a lockdown a few days ago, and now England is rolling out a similar initiative, which has some serious implications for travel.

England bans non-essential travel

England’s new lockdown is expected to last from November 5 through December 2, 2020. The details were revealed yesterday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Parliament still has to approve the measures in the coming days, though it’s expected that they will.

This comes as the UK is seeing a big increase in the number of new cases. On some days we’ve seen case numbers four times higher than during the peak back in the spring (fortunately deaths are down significantly).

For the most part the lockdown measures are in line with what you’d expect — restaurants have to close, social gatherings are banned, etc. However, arguably it’s the travel measures that many may consider to be the most drastic. For a four week period, England will be banning all non-essential travel, whether domestic or international.

Here’s the published guidance:

“Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed- including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with. There are specific exceptions, for example if you need to stay away from home (including in a second home) for work purposes.”

England is banning all non-essential travel

Is the England travel ban a recommendation or law?

Understandably a lot of people are wondering whether traveling for leisure will actually be illegal, or whether the travel ban is merely a “recommendation.”

While much of the guidance is fairly vague with regards to travel restrictions, it does seem that it would be illegal to travel for leisure (bolding mine):

“If you do need to travel abroad before 2 December (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, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice and the current travel corridor list.”

Since it sounds like traveling for leisure will be illegal, I wonder whether this will be enforced. I’m not suggesting anyone should violate the rules, but rather am curious about the logistics. If you check-in for a flight or go through immigration, will you be questioned about your reason for travel, or…?

The travel ban is a law, and not just a recommendation

It’s going to be a rough winter for airlines

It goes without saying that a lot of industries are suffering right now, though airlines in the UK will be especially hard hit by this.

International travel restrictions have constantly been changing, and this has been particularly challenging in Europe, where we’ve seen such inconsistent policies when it comes to testing, quarantining, etc. Unlike in other European countries, the UK hasn’t had any sort of a testing program to replace a 14-day quarantine, making leisure travel difficult.

It was already going to be a rough winter for major airlines in Europe, but these new restrictions make the situation significantly worse. I can’t imagine the amount of cash that airlines like British Airways and EasyJet will be burning through in the next several weeks. I’m also curious to see just how much they adjust their schedules in light of this new lockdown.

EasyJet will be especially hard hit by this lockdown

Bottom line

England is expected to go into a four week lockdown as of November 5. As part of this, the country is banning all leisure travel, including domestic and international. I imagine we’re going to see airlines significantly adjusting their schedules as a result.

It’s not often you see a country like the UK literally ban its residents from leaving the country. On the one hand, it’s logical that you’d ban travel (given all the logistics involved) if you’re trying to get people to stay home. On the other hand, it seems a bit much to ban someone from visiting a home they own in a different country, even if they’re intending to stay for months.

What do you make of England’s new travel restrictions?

  1. Have a 16-hour layover at Heathrow coming on Thursday night (6pm to 10am). From the previous guidelines, everything was okay as long as I stayed at the airport hotel. (US citizen, coming back home). It /seems/ like I’m still okay and don’t need to sleep in the terminal. Fingers crossed.

  2. Australia has banned its citizens from travelling internationally since March, and only allowed citizens and permanent residents to return. Today, the country recorded zero new cases, down from a peak of 800 per day in July. Now the government is looking to open exclusive travel bubbles with New Zealand, already partially open, then Fiji, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand. I.e. other countries that have treated the virus seriously. It may hurt in the short term, but over the longer term, it is the only way to manage this highly contagious, insidious virus effectively. It is sad it has taken the UK 8 months to realise this.

  3. As of now, these rules only apply to England (one of the four countries that comprise the United Kingdom).

  4. I think it’s a case where the main message they want to drive home is Stay At Home, which is a bit hard to reinforce if your guidelines still say that you can run off to the canaries if you want to.

  5. Boris Johnson may be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom but much of what he announced yesterday only applies to England.

    England is not the same as the U.K. and vice versa.

  6. These are not United Kingdom rules, they are England Rules, one of the four countries that makes up the United Kingdom…. of course the other administrations may follow suit.

  7. It does raise an interesting question though… what happens if a resident of Wales or Scotland wants to fly out from Heathrow? I assume you’d need to fly from Cardiff or Edinburgh to a hub airport and then get a connection to wherever you wanted to go.

  8. Wow, could you imagine living in a country that forces you to stay in your house for a month?

    Or the guy in Australia bragging about being locked up in Australia for 8 months now?

    That is one of the saddest things about 2020, how quickly people throw up their hands and say ‘put handcuffs on us government, we’re totally fine with it’

    I wonder what happens in the future when they have an even more dubious reason to lock people up? Imagine everyone will cheer and wave and say ‘thank you politicians!!’

    A real disgrace for all humanity.
    I hope people fight back, protest and ignore these laws as much as possible.

    George in Portugal

  9. Wow. I actually understand why Australia did that back in the spring since they were entering their winter and were unsure whether they had the hospital capacity to handle all those cases as seen in Italy, Spain, or China back then.

  10. @Lucky;

    ” If you check-in for a flight or go through immigration, will you be questioned about your reason for travel, or…?”

    Well, I can tell you, yes they will stop you if it’s not for work! I had to travel LIS-RAI end AUG for work. First Cape Verde won’t let you in if it’s not for work or you are a Diplomatic.
    At LIS I had to present a negative PCR-test with max 72h, following a official document from the institution who I work for in Cape Verde and a termendoes other documents. My wife is my compagnion with me and we had to present a official doc were it shows we were married, not the simple passport but a document from the place where you were married. Finaly we were allowed to board. I can assure you at least half the pax didn’t make it on the flight due to docs missing.
    After a four hour flight we arrived at RAI. As I’m a frequent Flyer I know how Customs work in Afrika so I told to my wife as soon as the doors open we have to run. Fortunately we were at a remote stand and no busses, you just walk to the Terminal. We arrived at Customs after 5 others. Again another amounth of documents to fill in. The time between arrival and take a Cab with our baggage were a roughly 3 hours, imagine what time the last passenger leaved. Ah and it was a A320, not kind of a B777 or kind of.
    Of course things in England can go otherwise.

  11. QANTAS has extended the UK/US flights cancellation until end OCT 2021 and, based on comments by the Health Minister today, it appears very unlikely that Australia will contemplate any serious border reopening until the population is vaccinated, ie commencing Q1 2921, completed ( with herd immunity, assuming it works) by year end. There might be some one-off reciprocal deals/bubbles in the meantime.

  12. @George I don’t believe anyone here in Australia is bragging and it is easy to live being “locked up” in the country. Considering (with Victoria being exception), we have lived our lives just like normal over the past several months able to shop, dine, drink, and enjoy indoor and outdoor activities with little community transmission of covid, many people are pretty happy with that result.

  13. I cannot imagine the damage to Australia’s hospitality business and all other sectors that run around it.

  14. @Santastico
    One one level that’s true. The industry has been very badly hurt from the closures, and the strong likelihood (…virtual certainty…) of no visitors from China, USA, UK will cause more pain in 2021, particularly for places like Sydney and Queensland.
    On the other hand, Australia has more outbound tourists than inbound…by some millions annually. Far more Australians visit the US and UK each year than vv.
    So in respect of net losses it’s a question of whether domestic tourism will fill the void. Probably unlikely that it will for some of the higher end , but it’s not all doom and gloom (…so long as there’s freedom of movement within the country)
    The biggest losers will be international airlines, expensive hotels and China-related tour companies/businesses.

  15. @George on the moon of Portugal, sure you will know really soon how it feels to be locked down. I encourage you to go the streets and protest. Already there or just web chitchat ting?????
    BTW Antonio Costa is Portugal’s president:

    António Costa anunciou este sábado medidas restritivas para 121 concelhos para travar a propagação da Covid-19.

    As novas medidas entrem em vigor a 4 de novembro e estarão em vigor nos seguintes concelhos:

  16. @Santastico – The countries that locked down earlier to the outside world at least kept their domestic economy going – Restaurants are open, domestic travel etc. They are now slowly opening bubbles to other low-risk countries too. The countries locking down later will have both lower domestic and international demand, possibly for months, so I think will suffer more long-term from the crisis.

    Great Britain, being an island and outside Schengen could have imposed restrictions more easily than its continental neighbours. Instead, by being slow to react, it has one of the highest case / death numbers within the EU.

  17. How to enforce a purpose of travel, real simple, put in a requirement for a permit to travel and reject those who do not possess valid reasons. Countries that have controlled the virus situation well have all done that to a certain degree and are experiencing enormous success. Remember although it’s your right for freedom, it’s others right not to catch to virus.

  18. Everyone marvels how governments can be so audacious. The answer is simple: if everyone wore masks, distanced and ate at home for 6 weeks we would be largely free of this disease. But everyone would need to do it within a country.

    But personal responsibility and rule following aren’t hallmarks of western civilization. So we get drastic measures instead. We can’t have nice things because we don’t deserve it.

  19. Pathetic that these guidelines would even be announced. Why anyone would actually follow them is beyond me. Last I checked we live in a free society, and government doesn’t tell us what to do.

  20. Hey Lucky- UK doesn’t equal England. Update your headline it’s misleading and poor from a travel blogger.

  21. @Brian
    “we live in a free society, and government doesn’t tell us what to do”

    Blimey. I don’t know where you studied political science, but that’s *precisely* what governments do.

  22. So to all the people commenting about the lockdowns in Melbourne – I live here. It has been tough on so many businesses but the government really had no choice. We could not leave Australia and even now, no other state will let us in without mandatory quarantine. Throw in the fact that the virus made it into the aged care system they really had no choice. My hear goes out to all the SMB owners.

    Both the Australian and state government have provided funding. We are literally paid to stay home in Melbourne if you have COVID. I read on other posts about people struggling to find where to get tested, we just drive up to a COVID testing site and get the results in <24 hours – and it is free.

    Yesterday was a great day for Australia. No new cases!

    Here in Melbourne the sun was shining and every where was busy. It was fantastic to see.
    What I love is many business have become creative and found new ways to generate revenue (think Providoor).

    The people who I really feel sorry for are those in regional Victoria and NSW. They lost their last summer season due to the fires and easter due to COVID.

    Australians are now spending in Australia in droves. I no longer get daily post as they have redeployed their resources to deliver packages as online. The rumour is that tomorrow that Reserve Bank will positive growth.

    As for not being able to travel internationally – this is annoying. I have tried to book destination trips within Australia and struggled to get bookings until April next year. Lord Howe Island, Ningaloo reef all booked out.

    Good luck England!

  23. Although I don’t do business in the UK and avoid LHR like the plague, even in non-COVID times, a four week ban is nothing compared to the endless ban placed on Americans by EU member nations (and reciprocal bans here) forcing essential travelers like myself to go to great lengths with each entry. Thankfully, AA still operates AA48 and AA70 to CDG and FRA during these times and the even though the procedures are becoming routine they are not fun costing plenty of time and money. Additionally, I always have a high level of anxiety with each entry not knowing if the rules have changed or if I will have a fever and will face more tests and possible quarantine. The vaccines can’t come soon enough, hopefully something is in the works for e-Passport vaccine checks. In the meantime, I feel everyone’s pain with these horrendous and probably necessary restrictions that can’t go away soon enough. Let’s hope the worst is over.

  24. Lucky, you gotta specify UK vs. England. They’re not the same thing, and this post is really confusing because you use them interchangeably.

  25. Ouch. Can Virgin Atlantic or British Airways survive a month (or more) of no travel? What about all those London hotels that have been empty for months? So much for Christmas in London this December.

  26. UK = England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland
    Great Britain = England, Scotland, Wales
    England = a country that does not include Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland

  27. @George – Do you know why we as mankind are still suffering from this disaster? It’s because of you idiots that are so hysterical about governments “putting handcuffs on us”. Be a responsible adult and do your part.

  28. @TheOriginalDonna are you for real?!!!! A european here… at least you can transit through Europe and could have visited at least some countries…we can’t even fly through the States! Get a grip!

  29. Fintan O”Toole has written a book discussing the English character and English Nationalism. “Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain”. As many have pointed out, this story of shutting borders isn’t a UK “thing” . Something very English is being pushed in Westminster.

    O’Toole writes about the long English tradition of clinging romantically to heroic defeat.
    “George Orwell wrote about this in the early 1940s. He said that it was extraordinary that if you think about the poems that English schoolkids will know, they’re all about defeats or retreats or disasters. It’s Scott of the Antarctic, it’s the Charge of the Light Brigade, it’s Gordon of Khartoum. That tradition of heroic failure was great when you were ruling the world as it was a way of saying we’re not really a nasty imperial power. But in a post-imperial age you get a farcical version. Because originally the thing that characterised heroic failure in the English imagination was not self-pity, but Brexit is full of hysterical self-pity.”

    It may be that the English have a different realtionship with pain the outsiders.

    The concerning thing is that the English will be prevented from travel and the outside world, keeping them at home glued to their tv sets. Away from family and loved ones. They will be in a similar situation to Melbourne was in for some months. Locked inside, listening every day to their elected political leader/ tin pot dictator (depending upon your point of view) . And some actually believing him,identifying with him, marvelling at his jacket, asking about his kids etc. The relationship between leader and the electorate/vassals (depending on your point of view) became very close. Unhealthily close.

    Yes, I do understand how virus spreads and how quarantine works. I imagine many of our our political leaders also understand, but have thier own reasons to act otherwise.

  30. @Brian – we do not live in a free society , and governments DO tell us what to do or what not to do .
    They tell us not to run a traffic stop light – people obey this or risk dying.
    They tell us not to exceed a speed limit on a highway or road
    They tell us (in some countries ) to have a regular vehicle inspection for safety
    They tell us to wear a seatbelt in a car or aircraft – people obey this .
    People are used to these and most do not complain.
    In some countries now, wearing a mask is mandatory by law , so if you do not there is a fine . I live in Cyprus and we have to wear a mask anywhere outside our home or be fined Euro 300 ( about USD350 ) …..sure a few trolls complain , but most just get on with life and accept it . We have a saying ”Be a man”

  31. We are due to travel to spain in December we are retiring there do you think this is possible?

  32. As much as I oppose border restrictions, having rules on who can enter can at least be supported by reasonable arguments.

    Banning people from leaving on the other hand is completely insane. There is absolutely no way that person who LEAVES the country poses a risk to that country. I mean, how on earth? If I’m not in the country, I can’t spread the virus in the country.

    This is a totalitarian practice and human rights abuse with no public health benefit whatsoever. I still can’t believe people are actually accepting it.

  33. So what it likely to happen if I turn up to catch my Ryanair to Spain this Friday? It’s not a holiday, but an essential trip to see significant other who’s clinically vulnerable. Will the lovely airport security people stop me. What ‘papers’ will they demand? I am genuinely wondering….

  34. I do think that the govt. aim is to be clear not to leave the house for any but the very few approved reasons, and these are essentially the same as they were for the spring lockdown with the exception that all schools are open (!)
    Whilst, it seems that holidays are just as illegal as were in the spring lockdown, for some reason the government has decided to highlight them, perhaps becuase they announced that people could go to the Canaries last week. Now they want to be clear; dont go anywhere.
    It is obvious that the target are groups of UK tourists sporting snorkels, shorts and sunglasses with tickets to places like Cran Canaria..
    As you CAN leave the house for reasons such as work (only where this can’t be done from home), hospital appts, education and to care for someone vulnerable I would imagine that you could travel abroad for any of those reasons (except where this cant be done locally, as you can exercise and buy milk locally, that wont be a valid excuse to say go and buy bread in Las Palmas. someone already tried this sort of thing in the spring lockdown by driving, with family, from the midlands to London to “buy bread”. Didnt work.)
    But to care for someone vulnerable i dont see why this is not a valid reason as this person would suffer, get worse or even die if you are not able to travel and provide this support.

    Interresting also how the UN chater on human rights and the ECHR states that no country may prevent people from leaving..The exception to the UN / ECHR directive on not acting like DDR/Soviet Union/North Korea and pull up an iron curtain must be valid public health reasons and as a last resort one would imagine. Having said that the UK hasn’t fully ratified those directives so I guess they don’t have to worry about them too much.
    There are plenty of things like airport testing which the government could have opeted for but they went for an outright ban as that is as far as their imagination stretches.

  35. Ban on outbound travel doesn’t make any sense. People could be returning to their home countries’ or going away for months.

    I think if the flights are not cancelled then what happens? do we just stay home? they will not refund us our money. Will this disgraceful govt. pay us for the lost of ticket fee?

  36. Airlines are flying. You can still make a booking and go.

    If people cannot see that this civilization is over (see Australia, NZ and what the UK is trying to pull off), then I do not know what else to say.

    The reset is underway, and most of you defending the people and governments that are doing it are too blind to see it. You will defend the absurdity, you will spout off the mantra’s thrown out by these governments without a thought.

    When there is no airline industry, when your favourite restaurants are all shut down, no industries left, what will you all say? “Wow”. SMH. Most of you truly can’t see where this is going, and I am sad for you all.

  37. As far as I’m aware this is no different to the rules that were in place UK-wide in late March through to May. You were not allowed to travel to a 2nd home and travel was for “essential reasons only”. This time it only applies in England.

    Also if you think that’s bad, Ireland I believe imposed a ban on traveling more than 5km from your home in the 1st lockdown and Wales currently has something similar I believe.

  38. Lol this summer and continuously I’ve hacked a way into Europe from the US. Since I’m a Tri Resident when landing in London from New York I’ll book a separate flight leaving 5 hours later from LHR. Since it won’t register under passport control I am able to enter any country In Eu. I hope this doesn’t change, probably won’t. If anyone is a resident in UK wanting to do this here you go.

  39. I am a US citizen and had a 18 day trip booked to London – so I could get a mental break from this year. I am scheduled to fly out on November 25th. Do you forsee these rules to create an issue for me? I just want to get away for a bit and I don’t mind being quarantine for 14 days either. Any insight would be great. Thanks

  40. Indeed, I don’t know how many foreigners are in the country at the moment but their governments will be anxious to get them home and the airport’s are unlikely to have the capacity to make that happen in 2 days so people will need to fly back throughout November or there will be some interesting diplomatic problems.
    From an epidemiological point of view allowing a steady non panicky, Covid secured flow of people leaving the UK is a good thing, less people who will circle in food shops etc .
    This is what we saw in March – April and at least within Europe and to the states there were some (though very limited) flight options.

  41. What do you think for this particular example I’m facing:

    I want to leave England before 2nd December (maybe 30th Nov or 1st Dec) and fly to South Africa, with a 10 day stop over in Dubai and come back to England on 8th Jan 2021. It’s to visit my husband’s parents and have them help us with childcare (baby under 1). We have little support over here, and feel we need help over Christmas period.

    The 10 day stopover in Dubai is because SA is currently not allowing UK residents to enter unless for specific reasons (not applicable to us) but staying in Dubai for 10 days then carrying on is allowed (plus a negative Covid test 72 hours before).

    Do you think this is a reasonable reason to leave England, or do you think we would be stopped? It’s not a holiday as such as we are staying with his parents, and my husband will also help in his parents’ business for the month we are there. I can’t find any particular guidance online for a situation similar to ours.

  42. Given that the government has put in provision that you can leave house to look after someone vulnerable you could argue that a visit to SA falls under this category.

    I’d to care for baby and mothet. The government has not published detailed guidance hopefully this will be clearer during or after the vote in parliament tomorrow. I have a similar situation to care for my elderly mother in another country in my case there is no other family around and she lives a bit remote and due to high covid situation there as well she won’t risk assistants (who often work in shifts so there multiple exposures) I will need to quarantine time in a third country for 10 days as well. It is definitely not a holiday.

  43. Hello i would like to ask you a question
    Do you know it apply for incoming flights?
    For example i am an EU citizen and i have already bought a ticket for 7/11
    Do you know if i can enter the Uk or not?(i am coming to seek for a job)

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