A ban on leaving Britain without a reasonable excuse is included in new coronavirus laws coming into force next week – with £5,000 fines for those who break the rules.
The legislation for restrictions over the coming months, as the Government sets out its road map for coming out of lockdown, was published on Monday. Entitled the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021, the laws come into force on March 29.
According to the legal document: ‘The Regulations also impose restrictions on leaving the United Kingdom without a reasonable excuse (regulation 8).’
The law says no-one may ‘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.
It suggests anyone who breaks such rules could face a £5,000 fine. There is also a £200 fixed penalty notice for failing to fill in a travel declaration form – giving person details and reason for travel – for those planning to leave the UK.
The need for the restrictions must be reviewed by April 12, and at least once every 35 days thereafter, the legal papers say. The laws expire on June 30, unless they are scrapped or amended in the meantime.
It has now emerged that France is likely to be added by the end of the week to a ‘red list’ of countries requiring hotel quarantine.
Health officials are increasingly concerned by a surge in cases of the South African Covid variant across the Channel. A minister even suggested the whole of the continent could be put on the red list because of botched vaccine rollouts.
That might mean the need to quarantine after foreign trips would stay in place until at least August.
The revelation comes amid warnings from Boris Johnson about a third wave of coronavirus currently sweeping across Europe – which could ‘wash up on our shores’.
A ban on leaving the United Kingdom without a reasonable excuse is included in new coronavirus laws coming into force next week
Entitled the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021, the laws come into force on March 29 (pictured: Heathrow)
The travel ban does not apply to those going to the common travel area of the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland unless that is not the final destination.
Boris Johnson warns that a THIRD WAVE of Covid in Europe could ‘wash up on our shores’
Boris Johnson warned that a third wave of coronavirus currently sweeping across Europe could ‘wash up on our shores’ today as he tried to fight off a fresh rebellion by lockdown hawks.
The Prime Minister is facing Tory backbench demands to speed up the UK’s journey out of lockdown off the back of the runaway success of the vaccine programme.
A hardcore is threatening to vote against emergency legislation underpinning the closures that needs to be voted through by MPs later this week.
But Downing Street insisted today that the legislation, which can only be extended for a period of six months at a time, was needed to ensure the smooth running of the furlough scheme and sick pay benefits.
Mr Johnson’s press secretary told reporters the PM would use ‘every opportunity’ to make the case to unhappy Conservative MPs that the current roadmap is going at the right pace.
And speaking on a visit to the BAE Systems factor in Warton, Lancashire today, Mr Johnson said he expected the third wave of Covid-19 infections to arrive at the UK’s door.
‘People in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, it washes up on our shores as well,’ he said.
‘I expect that we will feel those effects in due course.
‘That’s why we’re getting on with our vaccination programme as fast as we can but a vaccination campaign and developing vaccines, rolling them out – these are international projects and they require international co-operation.’
Exemptions also apply including for those needing to travel for work, study, for legal obligations or to vote, if they are moving, selling or renting property, for some childcare reasons or to be present at a birth, to visit a dying relative or close friend, to attend a funeral, for those getting married or to attend the wedding of a close relative, for medical appointments or to escape a risk of harm.
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, who deciphers the lockdown rules on Twitter for the public, said: ‘Previously, the ‘holiday ban’ which the government had advertised was assumed rather than explicit – because going on holiday wasn’t a reasonable excuse, it was assumed you couldn’t be outside of your home to do so. But now it is explicit.’
Protests will once again be a permitted exception to rules banning group gatherings under the laws if it is organised by a business, public or political body or other group and as long as organisers take the ‘required precautions’, which is likely to include measures like ensuring people wear face masks and are socially distanced.
It comes after campaigners, MPs and peers called on ministers to make clear protests were permitted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sam Grant, head of policy and campaigns at human rights group Liberty, said: ‘It is welcome that the next stage of lockdown contains the explicit exemption we’ve been calling for – this should have remained in place throughout the current lockdown, and it is unacceptable for it to wait until next week.’
The rules also allow students to return home during the Easter holiday.
The regulations, which will be voted on by Parliament on Thursday, essentially replace the previous tier system with a series of ‘steps’, following the proposed dates of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown for England.
The usual exemptions to the rules apply, like having a reasonable excuse for work, volunteering, childcare and other caring responsibilities.
Step 1, from March 29, permits up to six people meeting outdoors but restricts indoor gatherings of two or more people. Some outdoor sports are permitted.
Step 2, which could come into effect from April 12, is when non-essential shops might reopen as well as businesses like hairdressers and hospitality venues serving customers outside. Weddings and wakes could then have up to 15 people.
Step 3, which the Government said may come into force from May 17, allows groups of six to meet inside and up to 30 people outside.
The law says no-one may ‘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
Europe’s third wave of Covid infections is gathering pace amid a woefully slow vaccine roll-out that has seen just eight per cent of its population given at least one dose – leaving the rest vulnerable to infection.
Tory backbenchers have said Britain risks ‘squandering the advantages of our vaccination programme’ by moving too slowly to lift the lockdown.
Amid signs of a gathering rebellion, a string of MPs said they were ready to vote against the Government this week when it seeks to extend Covid laws to the end of September.
Labour’s Keir Starmer also threw his party’s backing behind an extension of the legislation, effectively killing off any chance of it filing to be approved.
He told LBC radio: ‘We’ll look at the regulations, but we have supported the government in these regulations every time they’ve put them before Parliament and that would be my starting position, to support the government on this.
‘We’re not out of the pandemic, we are still rolling out the vaccine, and in those circumstances, I think the government needs these powers and I would be slow to vote against powers which allow statutory sick pay to start on day one of being sick, which is very important during the pandemic, and against provisions that say you can’t be evicted during the pandemic if you’ve fallen behind in arrears.’
In the hour between 11am and noon on Saturday, a record 27 people per second were vaccinated.
Amid signs of a gathering rebellion, a string of MPs said they were ready to vote against the Government this week when it seeks to extend Covid laws to the end of September. Pictured: An anti-lockdown protest in London on Saturday
The Institute of Economic Affairs has said the success of the programme meant there was now ‘a strong case’ for bringing forward Boris Johnson’s road map dates by four weeks.
Christopher Snowdon, an economist at the free-market think-tank, said: ‘Every extra day of lockdown produces diminishing returns and mounting costs.
‘Waiting another two months for hospitality to reopen seems excessive when people will be meeting in their homes regardless of government diktats.
‘We should keep a watchful eye on the data, but we should not stick stubbornly to an arbitrary timetable.
There is now a strong case for bringing the road map forward by four weeks.’
Windsor MP Adam Afriyie said: ‘I fear that some minds in government are focusing on arbitrary dates rather than looking at the reality of the data on hospitalisations and deaths, which is what we were told in January would determine the unlocking.’
Ministers are facing a growing rebellion ahead of Thursday’s vote to extend Covid laws for a further six months.
But one Whitehall source told the Mail that ministers may insert a review clause that could end the regulations in June to head the revolt off.
Dr Mary Ramsay, of Public Health England, yesterday warned it was ‘very important that we don’t relax too quickly’ and that face masks and forms of social distancing may stay in place ‘for a few years’.
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