UK travel restrictions: Where can you go on holiday within the UK?

Helen Coffey
·3-min read
An Edinburgh city break is still uncertain (Getty Images)
An Edinburgh city break is still uncertain (Getty Images)

As the devolved nations of the UK continue to ease restrictions in a bid to cautiously move out of lockdown and get back to some sort of normality, holidays between some destinations are possible once more.

But with each set of rules and timelines proving slightly different, it can be confusing to figure out when domestic travel might be permissible within the UK.

Whether it’s crossing the border from England to Wales or hopping the Irish Sea from Scotland to Northern Ireland, here’s what we know so far about travelling between countries.

Travel to England

The UK government set out a roadmap out of lockdown that included specific dates.

From 12 April, people in England have been able to stay overnight in a property with their household or support bubble as long as it is self-contained (for example, in a self-catering holiday cottage). From that date, people from other UK nations can also cross the border to stay in England if their own governments’ rules allow, provided they are staying only with people from their own household or support bubble.

From 17 May, all accommodation types in England are slated to reopen, including hotels. However, being allowed to travel to England will again be dependent on the traveller’s origin country’s rules.

Travel to Scotland

Scotland's “stay local” order lifted on 16 April, enabling unrestricted travel within Scotland.

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Scotland has also opened its borders for travel from England and Wales once again as of 26 April.

It means that tourists in Britain with holidays booked in Scotland – and vice-versa – can go ahead with planned trips from now on.

Also from this date, all tourist accommodation can reopen, along with great swathes of the Scottish economy: cafes, restaurants and beer gardens can reopen, along with non-essential shops, close-contact services such as beauty parlours, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums.

It remains unclear whether travel between Northern Ireland and Scotland can resume from this date, with the timeline promising “reviews planned on journeys to Northern Ireland and the Republic”.

Travel to Wales

Travel rules within Wales were relaxed earlier than in other parts of the UK, with self-contained accommodation open since Easter.

The border was initially still closed, but as of 12 April people from England have been able to enter Wales for leisure purposes, such as holidays.

Those in Scotland are now able to do the same as of 26 April, as travel restrictions there have been further eased.

Those in Northern Ireland are still being told to “stay local” as of 12 April; travel further afield should be for essential purposes only.

Travel to Northern Ireland

On 12 April, Northern Ireland’s “stay at home” message was relaxed, swapped for “stay local”.

However, the current guidance relating to the Common Travel Area (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) states: “You should not travel in or out of Northern Ireland except where it is essential to do so.

“If you are arriving into Northern Ireland from within the Common Travel Area and you plan to remain here for at least 24 hours, public health advice is that you should self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days, unless you are exempt.”

People in Northern Ireland can enjoy a stay in self-contained tourist accommodation from 30 April; hotels and B&Bs are not slated to reopen until 24 May.

It is currently unclear when non-essential travel to and from Northern Ireland to elsewhere in the UK might be permitted.

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