Local lockdowns with differing restrictions and contrasting regulations in the home nations have made a mockery of calls for a clear, consistent message over Covid-19. For those planning holidays the situation has become more and more complex. Here is our guide to if and where you can go on holiday in Britain at the moment – whether you are in lockdown or not.
My area has been locked down – am I allowed to go on holiday?
England: If you live inside an area with local restrictions in England, you can still go on holiday outside that area (in Britain or abroad), as long as any indoor socialising you do is only with members of your own household or support bubble. However, it is permitted to stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast with another household if you avoid sharing rooms with people you do not live with and don’t socialise with them in restaurants and bars. The Government “advises against” sharing a caravan with another household and says you should not share a private vehicle with them to travel to your holiday destination. For those who live in a "tier three" zone – as it stands, Merseyside is the only area with this status – the advice is that you should not leave if you live there unless it is essential, and likewise you should not enter unless for work or school purposes.
Wales: The Welsh Government is preparing to prevent people who live in areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus from travelling to Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced. Mr Drakeford said the action was being taken after Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not reply to two letters requesting he introduce the measure across the UK. Under regulations being prepared, people living in areas with high levels of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be able to travel to Wales.
Scotland: There are no specific legal bans on travel currently beyond the national rules on social distancing and meeting (see below). Other local restrictions are detailed here. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has, however, asked people not to book overseas holidays during the October half-term break.
Can I travel from Tier 2 to other areas of the UK?
There are no travel restrictions on those living in Tier 2 areas, which look likely to include London from midnight on Friday. The Government advises residents not to take "unnecessary" journeys, but there will be no penalties for going against this.
However, anyone living under a Tier 2 lockdown must be mindful of other restrictions before travelling. Household mixing rules still apply, even if travelling to a Tier 1 area, so some group holidays may have to be postponed or cancelled if those going do not live together or share a support bubble. Travel is also off the table if the destination has a Tier 3 lockdown, or if additional restrictions are in place. For instance, the proposed measures by the Welsh Government to prevent visitors from high risk areas of England would almost certainly include Tier 2 as well as Tier 3, so holidays in Wales would be out of the question if these were to be approved.
What if I cancel my holiday?
This is a very problematic area. If you unilaterally cancel your holiday you will nearly always forfeit the cancellation costs. A few airlines and operators have said that they will allow customers who have already booked to postpone their holidays, but you have very little chance of a refund. People in lockdown in Wales are most likely to be affected. The advice from the Welsh government is not very reassuring. It acknowledges the likely disappointment, but goes on to say: “If you have pre-booked – and paid for a holiday – we would advise you to contact the travel agent or travel company to discuss the current situation [in your area] and the restrictions which have been put in place by the Welsh Government to restrict non-essential travel. You should also contact your travel insurer to discuss the situation – while many insurers have designed policies with coronavirus exclusion clauses, some annual policies may cover this situation.” This last point may be true, but it is clutching at straws and very few people are now likely to have cover for this.
What about holidays in the UK for those not living under a local lockdown?
England: Theoretically, you can travel anywhere in England, so long as it is not 'tier three' (currently, Merseyside) and so long as you don’t socialise – or stay – in groups of more than six. You probably wouldn’t want to visit an area in lockdown, but it is not against the rules to do so, as long as you follow the guidance and don’t stay in self-catered accommodation, such as holiday cottages, apartments or boats, with people you do not normally live with.
Wales: You may only travel into and out of restricted areas in Wales (see here) if you have a “reasonable excuse”, which includes going to work (where you can’t work from home) but not visiting for a holiday. There are no legal restrictions on people travelling to parts of Wales which are not under local restrictions. You can book a holiday with members of your household or extended household in self-contained accommodation or hotels, B&Bs and campsites. The Welsh government is not exactly encouraging, however: “We are not telling people they shouldn’t come to these parts of Wales but we are asking people to think very carefully about making journeys.” Basically – you can come, but don’t expect us to welcome you.
Scotland: You can go on holiday to or in Scotland as long as you respect the rule that in private indoor spaces, including holiday accommodation, you can only stay in one household. In public indoor spaces such as restaurants or pubs, you are allowed to meet up with one other household in a group of no more than six people. (Children under 12 don't count towards the total of people within this group of six). Outdoors, you are allowed to meet up with one other household. You can still book your household onto organised activities – outdoor activities, tours, coaches – alongside other unconnected households, as these operators are still allowed to take larger numbers where capacity allows. Full details are here. Note that Scotland specifically asks that those living in areas of England currently under tighter restrictions only travel to Scotland “for essential trips” and not for holidays.
- Have you got a question about how your half-term holiday could be impacted by a local lockdown? Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org and our experts will answer them.