Police will NOT stop or arrest people leaving the country in breach of new Covid holiday ban despite £5,000 fines for rule breakers
- Under new Covid guidelines coming Monday people may face a £5,000 fine
- But NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt says police officers will not be making arrests
- He described the issue as ‘a matter for UK Border Force’ once rules come in
People leaving the country in breach of the Government’s holiday ban will not be stopped or arrested by police, a senior officer has confirmed.
Under the new coronavirus regulations coming into force on Monday, people leaving England without a valid reason could face a £5,000 fine.
National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chairman Martin Hewitt said officers would hand out the penalties to anyone found flouting the rules to go on holiday.
However, he said barring anyone from travelling is a matter for UK Border Force, adding: ‘We are not simply going to arrest people because they are trying to leave the country.’
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said police will continue to question people about the reasons for their travel in the airport but not stop people or make arrests
Mr Hewitt was speaking to reporters after the release of NPCC data showing 508 fines had been issued by forces in England and three in Wales to people failing to self-isolate after arriving from a country on the Government quarantine list up to March 14.
He said no fines had been handed out by police for breaching regulations around hotel quarantine for those entering from red countries, which came into force on February 15.
He explained enforcement was primarily a matter for Border Force and private security contractors.
Mr Hewitt said police have increased the number of officers in ports and airports, and are continuing to carry out checks of people who should be self-isolating.
NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt says officers will not be making arrests
He said: ‘Police will not automatically stop travellers, though officers will continue to question people about the reasons for their travel in the airport terminals or the car park or the other points of entry and exit.
‘With the new legislation in relation to travel coming into force on Monday, if officers do discover anyone who is breaching the rules, then we will issue a fine where necessary.
‘Whether people become barred from travelling is not a police issue, though, that is for UK Border Force.’
The threat of fines has been extended until the end of June, making foreign summer holidays look increasingly unlikely as a third wave of coronavirus sweeps across Europe.
People travelling without a valid reason could be facing £5,000 fine once the new regulations come into force
A ban on leaving the United Kingdom without a reasonable excuse is included in new coronavirus laws coming into force on Monday
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.
It can be no sooner than May 17 under Boris Johnson’s official roadmap.
The travel ban does not apply to those going to the common travel area of the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland unless that is not the final destination.
Earlier this week Neil Ferguson, dubbed Professor Lockdown after telling the government to impose restrictions last March, warned people could be facing another summer at home.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast he said: ‘I think we… whilst not everything will be back to normal by the summer, certainly by the autumn, it will feel a lot more normal.’
Meanwhile Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said their passengers could be forced to wear face masks into 2022.
He said: ‘I would imagine at this point in time, we’re planning to continue to require mandatory face mask wearing on board our aircraft through the remainder of this summer schedule and next winter’s schedule.’
So what ARE reasonable excuses to leave the UK?
- Travelling for work, study, for legal obligations or to vote
- For childcare reasons or to be present at a birth
- To visit a dying relative or close friend
- To seek medical assistance or appointments
- To visit someone in a hospice or care home, but only if a close friend or family
- To attend a funeral, get married or to attend the wedding of a close relative
- For childcare purposes
- For volunteer or charity work
- To view houses to buy or rent, to visit an estate agent or a show home, or to move house
- If someone does not live permanently in the UK are they are going home