UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today, Saturday 31 October, announced a series of measures intended to suppress the spread of COVID-19 that will apply to England until early December.
These measures are expected to take effect from 00:01 GMT Thursday 5 November and will last until Wednesday 2 December at the earliest.
As has been widely reported they are wide ranging and are, in effect, a return to the lockdown of earlier this year in all but name.
Although Boris Johnson did not mention it during his statement at the press conference, ITV Political Editor Robert Peston was briefed beforehand, that international travel out of England will be banned, except for work. Travel within the UK is also discouraged. This has also been included on a list of restrictions published by Sky News. How this will be policed is a complete unknown.
Guidance is available on the UK government website: This has been updated twice since it was first published and is likely to be subject to further updates.
If you live in England, you cannot travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make. However you can and should still travel for a number of reasons, including:
travelling to work where this cannot be done from home
travelling to education and for caring responsibilities
to visit those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
to buy goods or services from premises that are open, including essential retail
to spend time or exercise outdoors – this should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
attending the care and exercise of a pet, or veterinary services
If you need to travel we encourage you to walk or cycle where possible, and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.
You must not travel if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace. The fine for breaching self isolation rules start at £1,000. This could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and the most serious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.
For those planning to travel into England, you should check the current travel corridor list to see whether you need to isolate for 14 days. You will still be required to abide by the restrictions set out here even if you do not need to isolate. If you do need to travel overseas from England 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 and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.
The regulations implementing these measures will be subject to a vote in Parliament on Wednesday.
It goes without saying this will have a hugely detrimental effect on travel and tourism. Those who are imminently due to travel will be concerned as to whether they will be able to return home. Anyone who hadn’t already given up on the prospect of a winter ski trip or an escape to sunnier climes, will now do so. It will also have a detrimental effect on people wanting to return home to their families.
The manner by which both the public and business have learned of this, first through leaks to newspapers and lobby journalists and a hastily arranged, and then delayed, press conference, is particularly shabby.