London, March 23
A ban on non-compulsory overseas travel is to be extended until the end of June under reviewed coronavirus legislation tabled in the UK Parliament this week, with breaches likely to face fines of up to 5,000 pound.
As Britain marked the one-year mark of its first stay-at-home lockdown on Tuesday, details emerged of new laws to control the spread of infections to be voted on Thursday. Although the new laws won’t expire until June 30, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested foreign holidays could be allowed before that date.
“The questions of whether people will be able to travel abroad this summer are going to be addressed by the Global Travel Taskforce, which is reporting around April 12,” Hancock told ‘Sky News’.
“The roadmap sets out the earliest date by which we will allow for international travel—without one of the clear reasons you need now—is May 17. That has not changed,” he said.
“The way we’re putting that into law is as part of these roadmap regulations that will be voted on Thursday. They come to an end as a whole at the end of June. But that doesn’t change the timings for these questions on international travel,” he added.
On foreign travel, the new law states that no one can “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.
The exemptions covered as a reasonable excuse include work; study; legal obligations or to vote; moving, selling or renting property; childcare reasons or to be present at a birth; visiting a dying relative or close friend; attending a funeral; getting married or attending the wedding of a close relative; medical appointments; and escaping a risk of harm.
Fines of 5,000 pound can be issued to those who break this rule, according to the regulations. Foreign travel for a holiday is already illegal and currently, a 200 pound fixed penalty notice can be issued to those who fail to fill in a travel declaration form, which includes personal details and reason for travel, for those leaving the UK.
The new rules will also mean protests will be considered a permitted exception to the ban on mass gatherings. Members of Parliament will vote on the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 in the House of Commons and, if approved, they would come into effect next Monday.
The new regulations form part of a move from ministers to extend measures contained within the Coronavirus Act. Some ruling Conservative Party parliamentarians are set to rebel, but the government is expected to have enough Commons votes for the new regulations. — PTI