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Petition Allow international travel to visit partners and family

The Government should class in-person interaction with family members and unmarried partners abroad as an essential reason to travel.

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It is vital for people’s mental wellbeing. It is simply inhumane to isolate and forcibly separate people and their family/partner. There are safe ways of enabling people to travel to their family members and/or partners, so there is no reason why the UK cannot facilitate this.

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Government responded

This response was given on 20 April 2021

The Government recognises the immense challenges these restrictions place on people with loved ones based outside the UK. Unfortunately, at this time people must only travel with a reasonable excuse.

The Government introduced the Stay in the UK requirement from the 29 March to replace the Stay at Home requirement that had previously limited the permitted reasons for international travel. The Stay in the UK requirement is needed to restrict international travel, thereby reducing the risk of importing or exporting dangerous variants of concern (VoCs). It is crucial to limit excessive importation of the Coronavirus at a time where prevalence in the UK is falling but much of the population is not yet protected by vaccination, and when infection rates are considerably higher in many other countries.

The Government recognises that Covid restrictions have made it more difficult for families to see people and have been especially hard for those with relatives that live in other countries. However, at this time we are unable to extend the reasonable excuse for travel so that any visit to see a family member or partner abroad is allowed. The legislation includes a list of express reasonable excuses for travelling abroad, many of which will allow people to see their family or partners abroad, where it is necessary, and it would not be possible to delay.

For example, the regulations include a number of reasonable excuses to allow for international travel to see family members where a visit could not be delayed. This includes reasonable excuse to travel to support someone that is giving birth, to accompany someone to a medical appointment or provide care and assistance to a vulnerable person, which includes if the person is 70 or over, pregnant or has an underlying health condition. You can also travel out of the UK to attend your own wedding or civil partnership, or that of a close family member, if at least one of the people getting married or entering into a civil partnership lives outside the UK.

When determining whether you have a reasonable excuse for travelling out of the UK you should consult the regulations and guidance It is important to stress that the list of reasonable excuses under the Stay in the UK provisions is non-exhaustive. Therefore, if you feel that your reason amounts to a reasonable excuse to travel internationally under the relevant legislation, then you should indicate that reason in the ‘other’ box on the declaration for international travel form. Although the Government have set out examples of exemptions in the regulations, it is not possible to determine the extent to which individual cases will meet the exemptions we have set out – that very much depends upon the facts of each case, which are properly the province of the police and, ultimately, the courts.

The Stay in the UK requirement is a temporary measure and will be removed when there is a safe way for international travel to fully resume. The Global Travel Taskforce has set out how, from 17 May at the earliest, international travel could fully resume in a sustainable way. This includes the removal of the ‘Travel declaration form’, meaning passengers would no longer need to prove they have a valid reason to leave the country. It will also introduce a traffic light system which will categorise countries based on risk.

The Government will set out by early May which countries will fall into these traffic light categories, as well as confirming when international leisure travel can safely resume.

Department of Health and Social Care

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Share your views on international travel and covid-19 with the Petitions Committee

The Petitions Committee has agreed to schedule a debate on this petition, to be led by Committee member Nick Fletcher MP.

Ahead of the debate, the Committee wants to hear how restrictions on international travel during Covid-19 have affected you, and your views on steps the Government could take to allow these restrictions to be lifted.

Share your views and experiences with the Committee by completing this short survey:

Please note: MPs may use your comments during the debate, so please don't share anything you wouldn't want to be made public. The debate date will be confirmed in due course.

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