A declaration of why you are travelling, a stricter list of essential travel exemptions and greater police checks and fines are among “enhanced” measures announced by government to curb international travel from the UK.
Laying out the actions in parliament on Wednesday (27 January), home secretary Priti Patel said it was “clear there are too many people coming in and out of our country each day”, despite the UK being in a state of national lockdown.
Patel said the restrictions would reduce passenger flows to just a small number of people "for whom it is absolutely essential to travel".
Those entering the UK from overseas will be subject to tighter police checks to ensure they are complying with the country’s self-isolation requirements, while a new 10-day managed isolation process in hotels will be compulsory for arrivals from 22 "high-risk" countries.
Patel said the Department of Health will "set out further details on this approach next week".
For people leaving the UK, Patel said the government would be "stepping up and enhancing enforcement rules", stating that despite the country’s "stay at home" regulations, people were still not complying with these rules.
"The rules are clear," said Patel. "People should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave – going on holiday is not a valid reason."
Travellers will soon need to make a declaration as to why they are travelling, which will be checked by airlines, Patel said.
There will also be "an increased presence" at airports and other departure points; those without a valid reason for travel will be ordered to return home and may face a fine.
There will also be "an urgent review" of the list of current travel exemptions to make sure "only the most important and exceptional reasons are included", said the home secretary.
"These are critical new measures to protect us all but also to complement the robust action we have consistently taken at the border," said Patel.
"While these new measures are being operationalised, I would like to remind anyone seeking to enter our country to comply with the rules.
"These new measures are a necessary step to protect the public and our world class vaccination programme."
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the measures were another example of "too little, too late".
"Limiting hotel quarantine to a limited number of countries, from which travel by non-UK residents was already banned, means the home secretary’s proposals do not go anywhere near far enough," he said.
We cannot know whether these virus mutations will emerge from next, and the truth is the government is once again behind the curve.
"Labour is calling for comprehensive hotel quarantining. Today’s announcement is too limited. It leaves huge gaps in our defences against emerging strains.
"We know the strains that emerged in South Africa and Brazil have already reached these shores. Little wonder when controls have been so lax.
"We’ve seen this reluctance to be decisive from the start of the crisis. From 1 January to 23 March last year, only 273 people were formally quarantined when over 18 million people entered the country by air."