Helen CoffeySun, 28 March 2021, 9:46 am
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” while the coronavirus crisis eases.
The Independent has repeatedly sought clarification from the government on what the guidance means, without success.
Our conclusion is: avoid frivolous travel: whatever the law allows you to do, you should consider the effects of your actions, which means not making journeys for the sake of it.
But conversely after 12 weeks of venturing no further than you can walk from my front door, it may be that you regard a 50-mile trip from Manchester to Blackpool or from London to Brighton as a much-needed break,.
In addition, a longer journey from, say, Bristol to Leeds or Birmingham to Liverpool to see much-missed family or a partner seems 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.
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Where can I go for a daytrip?
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. Grand Central, which runs from London King’s Cross to Yorkshire and Teeside, has resumed services on East Coast main line in competition with the government-run LNER.
What’s happening in London?
Transport for London (TfL) says: “The government is urging people to stay local where they can and TfL is asking Londoners to consider walking and cycling by taking advantage of the city’s network of safe walking and cycling routes.
“Those who need to use public transport should try to minimise their journeys [and] plan for quiet times and routes.”
Quiet times are defined as 8.15am to 4pm and after 5.30pm on weekdays, and at weekends before 12 noon and after 6pm.
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 can now travel widely – but not across the border.
Do I get more freedom if I have been vaccinated?
No. Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation told BBC Breakfast: “It’s still possible, even though you’ve been vaccinated, to get infected and have no symptoms and transmit it to others.
“It’s really, really important that all those who have been vaccinated stick to the rules.”
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.”