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These are the only reasons you can legally leave the country from 29 March

Travellers arrive at Heathrow airport. (PA)


The government has published new COVID regulations that will come into force from 29 March, when current lockdown restrictions end. The new regulations, released on Monday, include laws that will make it illegal to leave the country without a “reasonable excuse”. The government document also says no one will be allowed to travel to or be present at an embarkation point – for example an airport, ferry or train station – with the purpose of travelling to a destination outside the UK. Anyone who tries to travel without one of the approved reasons could be fined £5,000. It is currently already illegal to leave the country under the government’s “stay at home” orders, which end on 29 March.

But human rights barrister Adam Wagner has pointed out that a ban on travelling for holidays was merely assumed under the “stay at home” order and had not actually been formalised into law. He said: “Previously, the ‘holiday ban’ which the government had advertised was assumed rather than explicit – because going on holiday wasn’t a reasonable excuse, it was assumed you couldn’t be outside of your home to do so. But now it is explicit.” Under the new regulations, the government has provided an extensive list of what counts as a “reasonable excuse” – and it does not include going on holiday. If someone has a reason to leave that’s included on the list, they must fill out a travel declaration form. Here are the only permitted “reasonable excuses” for legally travelling out of the UK under the new regulations.

Reasonable excuses to travel from 29 March

To travel anywhere inside in the common travel area – the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands

To travel for work that cannot be done from the UK

To carry out voluntary or charitable services that cannot be done from the UK

To attend a course of study that cannot be done from the UK

To return to your home country for a vacation between 29 March and 29 April if you’re a foreign student studying in the UK

To travel for training or competitions if you’re an elite sportsperson

To fulfil a legal obligation or participate in legal proceedings

To complete certain aspects of a property purchase

To seek medical assistance, attend a clinical appointment, avoid illness/injury or to escape a risk of harm

To attend an expectant mother giving birth at the mother’s request

To visit a person receiving treatment in a hospital

To stay in a hospice or care home

To take someone to a medical appointment under certain circumstances

To provide care and assistance to a vulnerable person

To provide emergency assistance to any person

To visit a friend or family member who is dying

To attend a funeral

To get married or attend a wedding/civil partnership ceremony

To meet family members who live in a different country where a child is involved in various circumstances

To partake in certain aspects of child adoption

To vote in an election or a referendum where it’s not possible to vote from the UK

To leave if you’re in the UK on a temporary basis/are not resident

If you’re the child/dependent of a person who has a reasonable excuse to travel and no alternative care arrangements can be made.