NIGERIANS living in the UK will be barred from travelling home as from next Monday under new stringent Covid-19 restrictions which will penalise travel outside Britain without reasonable reason with a £5,000 fine.
In the most recent crackdown on the pandemic, the UK government is doing all it can to protect the country from the mutant strains of the Covid-19 virus that have emerged in several countries. There are even indications that the new restrictions might be in place until September, which could all the usual summer holiday hot-spots are off limits this year.
Under the roust new laws, travellers face a £5,000 fine for going abroad on holiday until the end of June, threatening summer breaks. Reasonable excuses include needing to travel for work or study, or to visit a dying relative or close friend, although the ban does not apply to those going to the common travel area of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland
Set out in legislation announced in the House of Commons yesterday, the latest ban comes on top of the previously announced £200 fine for not filing out a travel declaration form on reasons for leaving the country. However, people can go abroad for some childcare reasons or to be present at a birth, to visit a dying relative or close friend.
In addition, travellers are also allowed to leave the UK to attend a funeral, to get married or to attend the wedding of a close relative, for medical appointments or to escape a risk of harm. They can also go abroad to view houses to buy or rent, to visit an estate agent or a show home, or to move house.
To make matters worse, France is likely to be added to the red list of countries requiring hotel quarantine by the end of the week. Health officials are increasingly concerned by a surge in cases of the South African Covid-19 variant across the English Channel.
One senior minister even suggested the whole of the European continent could be put on the red list because of the botched vaccine rollout. Quarantine-free holidays may not be possible until August, killing off hopes of trips abroad until late summer.
At the moment, a traffic light system is under consideration, allowing travel to green countries without the need for quarantine on return. Transport secretary Grant Shapps is leading a taskforce that will report by April 12 on how and when the ban on non-essential travel can be lifted but it can be no sooner than May 17 under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official roadmap.
That might mean the need to quarantine after foreign trips would stay in place until at least August. However, the move is attracting opposition in Conservative Party circles as Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, said extending travel restrictions will be devastating for millions of people working in tourism.
Prime minister Johnson has already warned about a third wave of coronavirus currently sweeping across Europe as the country marks the one year anniversary of the first national lockdown today with a minute’s silence. Exactly one year after the UK first went into national lockdown, a study found that the virus robbed British families of a total of 1.5m years with their loved ones by cutting lives short.