From today, Monday 8 March, travellers wishing to leave England must have a completed Declaration form. Failure to do so could land them with a criminal record and a fine of £200. This includes travel via air, ferries and trains.
Travellers can obtain the declaration to travel document from the government’s website. The form can be printed or stored on a mobile phone.
Travellers must include their personal details such as their address, passport number and final destination. They must also tick a box to indicate their reason for travel outside the country.
The current “stay-at-home” rule prohibits all holidays, both at home and abroad. There are exceptions, and the onus is with airlines, train operators and ferry companies to check that their passengers have a valid reason to travel abroad. Valid reasons include work, urgent family matters and medical treatment.
There is a noticeable increase in police patrols at ports and airports in recent weeks, and the Department for Transport said that they have the power to ask travellers to produce a completed form.
If the traveller cannot or refuses to produce the three-page document, a fine of £200 can be levied to anyone found to be attempting to travel without a valid reason will be asked to return home. On top of that, the traveller could also receive a fixed-penalty notice for breaking stay-at-home rules.
Under Boris Johnson’s roadmap for easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions, the earliest possible date for holiday travel abroad from England is May 17.
Until then, the government says: “You may carry evidence to support your reason to travel.”
The Declaration to Travel is the latest tightening of the most severe restrictions on movement ever known in peacetime.
Following Johnson’s announcement, easyJet, Ryanair, Tui and Thomas Cook have all reported a jump in bookings to destinations including Spain and Greece for travel later in the year.