Form for reasons to leave the UK live & new anti-travel law
I honestly never thought I would live to see the day where I had to submit a form saying I wished to leave my own country. Sadly from Monday 8 March, that day will come. I can’t see any point to it as the police already perform random checks on people’s reasons for travelling. If someone is determined to break the law then I doubt filling in a bit of paper to present at the airport is going to make any difference.
The only good thing is that this has given more clarity about what reasons are acceptable for travel and that the law will be changed.
From 8 March 2021, you must complete the form to declare the reason that you need to travel abroad from England. Different rules apply for international travel from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. You don’t need to complete the form for travel within the UK, to Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
You need to print a copy of the completed form or save it to a mobile phone or another device. You can find more details here.
Permitted reasons for travel
Here are some of the main reasons allowed for travel:
- Work – Essential travel for business or official work purposes where it is not reasonably possible to complete that work from home.
- Volunteering – Where it is not reasonably possible to volunteer from home.
- Medical or compassionate grounds
- This includes:
- to visit someone who is dying or critically ill
- maternity services, or to be with someone who is giving birth, or with a baby receiving neonatal critical care
- medical treatment or emergency which cannot be reasonably received in the UK or to accompany a person where necessary
- to avoid injury or illness or escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse)
- to fulfil legal obligations
- to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property
- travel in order to exercise custody rights recognised by a court decision
- order to present oneself to a judicial or administrative authority
Change in law
When the stay at home law expires on 29 March, the government plan on bringing in legislation (or perhaps changing the existing one) to prevent people travelling abroad on holiday. The official government page says “Even once the stay at home requirement ends on 29 March 2021, it will remain unlawful to leave the UK unless you have a reasonable excuse, permitted by law.”
Portugal announces tourism plans for UK visitors
Portugal is currently on the UK’s red list due to its connections with Brazil even though flights were banned between the two countries several weeks ago. Hopefully, that will change as vaccinations and restrictions continue to drive down cases in Portugal.
Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, today told the BBC: “I do believe that Portugal will soon allow restriction-free travel, not only for vaccinated people, but those who are immune or who test negative. We hope to welcome British tourists from 17 May. Everything will be ready by mid-May.”
17 May is the earliest date that the government could allow foreign travel from England. The red list is reviewed constantly and obviously, we don’t know what will happen when travel becomes legal again.
If the UK allows international travel again, it’s beginning to look like we will have plenty of choice of countries to visit, even for those that are not yet vaccinated.
BA increase Maldives flights
The Maldives has been one of the most accessible tourist destinations recently in terms of entry restrictions and is not currently on the red list. It used to be very expensive but at the moment, there are multiple offers for hotels at very reduced prices. BA have announced that their Maldives service will be extended into the Summer 21 season from Heathrow. The route will be operated by a 4-class Boeing 777. On select dates, this will feature the new Club Suite (but obviously that could change again).
The services will be:
- May-June: 1 service per week (Friday)
- July-Oct: 2 services per week (Friday and Sunday)
The flights are available to book via ba.com for both Avios or cash, but currently, I can see very little availability on Avios.
Qatar increases available seats and upgrades aircraft to Seychelles
As a result of the announcement that the Seychelles will be back open for tourism from 25 March, Qatar has announced that they are increasing their number of seats and will initially be flying twice a week, building to 4 times a week by July. I am also expecting a European sale shortly.
The flights will now be on the B787 which does not have QSuites but still has good business class seats. It’s definitely a step up from the previous A330 which I am not a fan of. (you can read reviews of all the Qatar business class seats here)
Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori, who said: “We resumed our flights to the Seychelles in December 2020. Now the islands are opening up further for visitors, we are delighted to offer more seat availability and an enhanced and sustainable experience for our passengers using our Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
“We know the authorities in the Seychelles remain vigilant and visitors will still be required to adhere to public health measures put in place in view of the pandemic these will include wearing of face masks, social distancing and regular cleaning of hands.