England Set to Slap CA$8,600 Fine on Non-Essential Travellers

Gavel with pound currency symbol.The U.K. government says it will impose a £5,000 (CA$8,650) fine on anyone in England trying to travel abroad for non-essential reasons, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The penalty, which aims to crack down on non-essential travel at a time when COVID-19 cases in Europe are surging and vaccinations are lagging, is due to come into force Monday as part of new coronavirus laws.

Anyone travelling abroad will need to fill in a “Declaration to Travel” form, stating a valid reason for leaving the country, such as education, work or childcare. If their reason for travel doesn’t fall into one of the ‘valid’ categories, then they would be subject to the fine.

The new legislation will be voted on by MPs on Thursday. If passed, the £5,000 fixed penalty will come into force 29MAR.

The new law is set to remain in place until 30JUN. Until now, the earliest date for the resumption of international travel from the U.K. had been slated as 17MAY, but the surge in COVID cases in continental Europe and the slow vaccine rollout are casting doubts on the resumption of foreign travel.

The law would only apply to England as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can set their own travel restrictions.

Government advisor Neil Ferguson told BBC Radio 4 that the Brits “should be planning on summer holidays in the U.K. not overseas.”

Airlines UK, which represents big carriers, said “nothing has changed” with the new legislation and that airlines are continuing to work with the government to restart international travel safely from 17MAY.

On Monday, health minister Lord Bethell suggested that the whole of Europe might end up on the U.K.’s “Red List” of countries with dangerously high COVID-19 levels.

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