Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said people are free to travel overseas for leisure, to visit friends and family, or to do business – providing they travel directly to their departure airport.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday morning (24 November), Shapps said regardless of which tier of coronavirus restrictions people find themselves after the country’s national lockdown ends at midnight on 2 December, they will be permitted to travel outside their area for the purpose of overseas or international travel.
Shapps said the aim of the more stringent Covid restrictions due to come into effect from 3 December were to "dissuade people from travelling around generally", especially those in higher tier areas.
"You will be able to travel again after 2 December," said Shapps, adding: "Obviously, you should be sensible and cautious with it."
When pressed on what this meant for overseas and international travel, Shapps said while the government’s advice was for people to "ideally" avoid travelling outside their area, the government "wasn’t in the business of telling people whether they can’t travel".
"If you’re going straight to an airport and you’re going abroad [acknowledging] where you’re going, of course, will have restrictions in place, putting all that aside, that is something you can do," he said. "What we are trying to avoid is people travelling around the country from the high tiers."
Shapps said people planning to travel should exercise caution, check the latest gov.uk and Foreign Office advice, be aware of any restrictions in their chosen destination, and ensure they are able to self-isolate upon their return if a country’s travel corridor status changes or they test positive at any stage of their journey, requiring them to self-isolate.
The concessions come in the wake of government announcing a new "test to release" quarantine regime, which will take effect from 15 December. It will allow people returning from the UK from non-travel corridor destinations to take a test on the fifth day of their 14-day self-isolation requirement to release them from quarantine, if negative.
It also comes after the government has, in recent weeks, continued to add more destinations – such as the UAE and Sri Lanka – to the quarantine-free travel corridor list, a factor Shapps acknowledged in his response.
"Of course, there are still some countries with travel corridors where there are no restrictions," he said. "But look, I’m not trying to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do with regards to travel, that’s for each individual person but there are a lot of things to consider before you travel, particularly during coronavirus."
TTG has contacted the Cabinet Office and the Department for Transport for clarification of the rules with regards to travel to departure ports for leisure travel once the national lockdown restrictions are lifted at midnight on 2 December and what a return to the tier system means for people hoping to get away for a winter sun break.