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What are the rules on travelling in and out of London right now?

Day trips? Holidays? Travelling for exercise? Here’s what you can and can’t do now the city (and the whole of England) is back in lockdown

Ellie Walker-Arnott

Welcome to 2021... and Lockdown 3! As of January 5, England has entered a third national lockdown that could last, well, for quite a while actually. The restrictions will reportedly be reviewed on February 15 and may not be eased until March, while the vaccine is rolled out across the country. 

Now, we know what that means for life in London (spoiler: the end of our takeaway pint habit) but how does the new situation affect your ability to leave the city, take day trips from London or head off on any upcoming holidays you might have booked?

Can you travel in and out of London during lockdown?

Not for the time being. The government’s new guidance is quite clear that ‘you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary.’

If you are a key worker – defined as ‘people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance’ – then you may still travel in or out of London to go to your place of work.  

You can also leave your home to visit your support bubble or childcare bubble, to access education or if you have caring responsibilities, to visit a hospital, GP or other medical appointment, to visit a vet, or to access essential retail. 

Unlike the November lockdown, this is now the law. ‘The police can take action against you if you leave home without a “reasonable excuse”, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice). You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400,’ read the new rules. 

Mermaid Street, Rye
Photograph: Shutterstock

Can Londoners go on holiday outside of London?

It’s a no, sorry. Holidays, whether in the UK or overseas, are cancelled for the time being. ‘Holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed,’ reads the guidance. ‘You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so.’ 

A reasonable excuse includes things like staying overnight with your support bubble, escaping harm, such as domestic abuse, or moving house. 

The guidance also states: ‘Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing.’

Autumn in Kent countryside
Photograph: Shutterstock

What about day trips from London?

Nope. Lockdown means all non-essential journeys are off the cards, so we should all be staying in our local areas unless we need to travel for one of the reasons listed above. 

When England went into the first lockdown in early 2020, day trips were also banned. They were then permitted again before overnight stays, so day trips are likely to be back on the agenda again before holidays. But, for now, day trips from London are reserved for when lockdown is over. Still haven’t had a pint on the beach in Whitstable or time travelled in atmospheric Rye? Summer 2021, we’re looking at you! 

What’s the deal with travelling for outdoor exercise? 

The official guidance does say you are allowed to leave your home to exercise, though you should only do so once a day, and you’re not allowed to go outside for social reasons like picnics.   

It goes on to say: ‘If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall... outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)’

There is no set limit on the distance you are allowed to travel from your home to access an open space, but you shouldn’t be driving miles to the beach or travelling for hours to a park nowhere near your home. You should stay as close to your primary residence as possible. Walks in our local park it is, then. 

Rather daydream about future adventures than live in the moment? Here are the best Airbnbs in the UK and some super wholesome (and alfresco) UK hikes for when we’re allowed to travel again. 


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