Can I still travel abroad in tier 3? Holiday lockdown rules explained

International travel is allowed from tier 3 locations 'if you're going straight to an airport,’ said the transport secretary, Grant Shapps

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 16 December 2020 13:02 GMT
Matt Hancock announces 'tougher' tiers

Residents of areas that are designated “tier 3” will be able to travel abroad.

On Monday 23 November, the government published its plans for the coming winter – which included the options for people wishing to travel abroad.

During the most recent lockdown, no one in England could travel domestically or abroad for leisure.

From one minute past midnight on 2 December, people living in tiers 1 and 2 have been told they are able to take holidays.

But for residents of tier 3 areas, the government says: "Avoid travelling out of the area, other than where necessary such as for work, education, youth services, medical attention or because of caring responsibilities.”

Read more: Can you travel into and out of a tier 3 area? New lockdown rules explained

No 10 indicated that the instruction to “avoid travelling out of the area” was law, rather than merely guidance.

But before lockdown ended on 2 December, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said tier 3 residents would be able to go abroad.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, he said holidays would be allowed abroad – “if you're going straight to an airport”.

The chief executive of Heathrow airport said: “Clearly if we have the prime minister and Grant Shapps having different messages, they need to give clarity.

“If people from tier 3 can travel, that will be fantastic.

“We need to get the UK economy back to normal as quickly as possible, and that includes allowing people to fly.”

Read more: London tier 3 rules: Latest restrictions as capital to move to 'high alert level'

The government has since confirmed that there will be no legal impediment to travelling on holiday from anywhere in England – subject to outbound and inbound rules.

People living in tiers 1 and 2 will be able to go to tier 3 areas to board a flight.

In terms of domestic travel, those living in tier 3 have been advised not to travel outside of their area except for essential reasons such as work or education.

The government also advises that “if you are travelling, you should only do so alone or with members of your household or support bubble”.

Overnight stays outside of your area should only be for essential reasons but the advice does not expressly forbid staying in hotels within your area.

The rules are different during the Christmas travel window.

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