Helen CoffeyThu, 25 March 2021, 3:32 pm
From 29 March, the next major stage in the phased reopening of England swings into action.
This step on the roadmap makes outdoor socialising possible again and means you don’t need an essential reason to be out of your home.
But what does the rule change mean for travel? Here’s what we know so far.
Can I go on a daytrip?
The “stay at home” order for England is being lifted. In its place is the government’s official advice to “minimise travel” which has been verbally augmented by ministers urging people to “stay local”.
The Independent has repeatedly sought clarification from the government on what it has in mind, including giving examples – such as a daytrip between London and Brighton, a distance of 50 miles each way.
So what is the traveller to do? First, consider the advice in Wales, where the Cardiff government lifted its stay at home rule on 13 March. It was replaced by a guideline of going no further than to five miles from home. But the “stay local” requirement within Wales will be lifted entirely on 27 March.
Evidence from Northern Ireland on staying local for exercise may also help with a definition: “You should not travel more than 10 miles from your home to exercise.”
In Scotland, meanwhile, “exercise can start and finish at a place in your local authority area (or up to five miles from its boundary)”.
With the government currently unprepared to clarify what it means, you might therefore set your own limits at five miles or 10 miles from home, or the Scottish variant: five miles from the border of your local authority.
But perhaps it is better to re-define the government advice as “avoid frivolous travel”: not making journeys for the sake of it. You may regard a 50-mile each way trip as a much-needed break to allow you to escape the confines that you have endured for the past 12 weeks.
Many people will want to reconnect with people they have been legally unable to visit since the start of the year, and a longer journey from, say, Bristol to Leeds or Birmingham to Liverpool to see a much-missed close friend or family would be permissible both legally and morally.
Overnight stays are off limits until the next stage of the roadmap, on 12 April, though – so channel your inner Cinderella and ensure you’re home by midnight.
- Travel industry fury at ‘coordinated campaign’ to undermine holidays
- How the ‘traffic light travel’ system could work
- Summer holidays would bring ‘real risk’ of Covid variants, says scientist
- When can we travel again? Key lockdown easing dates
Many of England’s outdoor landmarks are reopening from 29 March, meaning if you live fairly nearby you can change up your daily stroll with a visit to some lush greenery. English Heritage announced that 50 of its properties would open in anticipation of the “stay at home” restriction being eased, while Alton Towers’ elegant gardens will reopen on 29 March “for local families to enjoy”. Capacity will be limited and tickets must be pre-booked.
For a day trip with a difference, boat hire company Drifters will allow single households to hire a canal boat to explore local waterways for the day from 29 March. It offers day hire from 17 boat yards across England and Wales, including those in Shropshire, Worcestershire and Stratford Upon Avon.
Can I do a day trip with other people?
The “rule of six” guidance returns from 29 March, meaning you can meet outdoors in public spaces or private gardens in groups of up to six people or two households.
This means a trip to a local park, beach or gardens with others should be permitted – but you shouldn’t travel together in the same car.
Can I go to a wedding?
Yes, but don’t expect to be invited unless you’re part of the couple’s inner circle. Weddings can take place with just six guests in attendance from 29 March. The overnight stays ban also applies, so it would have to be near enough that you could get there and back the same day.
Can I catch a bus or train?
Yes. On 29 March both National Express and Megabus will resume running long-distance services. With only roughly half the normal number of seats on sale – because of social distancing measures – services are selling fast, with just three tickets left.
National Express is resuming inter-city services at just 15 per cent of its normal network. Initially, buses will run on 20 routes serving 120 locations.
Megabus says: “We’ll be offering a reduced network for travel from 29 March.”
Trains are still not running at pre-pandemic levels, but the number of services is being increased.
Can I go on a domestic holiday?
Not if you’re an England resident. The ban on overnight stays will lift on 12 April at the earliest, when stays at self-contained accommodation, such as holiday cottages, could be allowed for single households. However, if you live in Wales, you might be able to do this from 27 March.
Can I go abroad on holiday?
No. The government website states: “Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons. Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme. The government has launched a new taskforce to review global travel which will report on 12 April.”