$13K fine? We shouldn’t have to say this, but please follow travel restrictions if you’re traveling to the UK

Mar 2, 2021

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Here at TPG, we try to stay on top of all of the latest news and trends as they pertain to aviation, loyalty, cruising and other segments of the travel industry. And that includes reporting on the ways that travel has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

And with the pandemic, the news and advice regarding travel seems to change daily. But, if you are traveling right now for any reason, it’s incredibly important to follow government rules and restrictions. After all, the rules are there for the safety of everyone and to hopefully get us out of this pandemic.

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Since January 2021, the U.K. has been in its third — and hopefully final — national lockdown. As such, all non-essential travel has been deemed illegal, rendering both domestic and international vacations for those looking to leave the country off the table.

And also since January 2021, the government has taken to cracking down on travel. More specifically, it is cracking down at the border. The U.K. now requires that all arriving passengers have to have a negative COVID-19 test result, taken 72 hours at most prior to scheduled departure. All passengers are also required to fill out a passenger locator form prior to departure.

Additionally, England has instituted a list of countries from which non-nationals and non-residents are forbidden from entering if they’ve traveled through one of the 33 banned countries in the past 10 days. And even if a British or Irish national or a third-country national with residency rights in the U.K. is eligible to still travel to England, they will have to pay around $2,400 to spend a 10-day quarantine period in a government-supervised hotel.

Related: Everything you need to know about the UK’s hotel quarantine policy

(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

All other international arrivals are now required to undergo a 10-day quarantine, following the suspension of the travel corridors scheme. All quarantining passengers are now required to pre-order a COVID-19 test kit before traveling and take a test on days two and eight of their quarantine.

Related: Hotel quarantine, 3 COVID-19 tests and more: Everything you need to know about traveling to the UK

While some consider the moves at the border to be too little, too late, the point is that the government has implemented these restrictions in order to keep the country safe. The rules are there to keep families safe. To keep healthcare workers and essential shop workers safe. To keep you and me safe.

So, the penalties are high for breaking these rules — and rightfully so. The government said that it will punish those who lie on their passenger locator form about where they’ve been with a maximum fine of as much as $13,930 and up to 10 years in prison.

On Tuesday March 2, we saw an example of just that.

Merseyside Police announced that it had issued two fixed-penalty notices to two travelers who “failed to comply with COVID regulations following international travel.” On Feb. 23, a man and woman from Wirral were reported to have evaded quarantine restrictions after returning from Dubai. They reportedly flew from Dubai to a secondary airport before arriving in the U.K. without disclosing they had been in the UAE — a country on the travel ban list.

Related: All 33 countries that are on the UK’s travel ban list

On Feb. 26, after investigating the incident, Merseyside Police issued the duo £10,000 ($13,951) fines each and they were transported to a designated quarantine hotel.

“Strict rules around international travel have been put in place by the government for a reason, and to disregard them in this way is selfish, inconsiderate, and potentially dangerous,” said Merseyside Police Chief Inspector Chris Barnes.

Presumably, the two had to pay the quarantine hotel fee as well — £1,750 (about $2,438) for a solo traveler and £650 (about $905) for the second adult.

“I hope this incident sends out a clear message to anyone considering breaching travel regulations in this way that we will not tolerate it, and you will be dealt with robustly. We are at a crucial point in the pandemic and it’s vital that everyone continues to abide by the restrictions so that we can meet the criteria needed for lockdown to ease,” Barnes said. “By not doing so, you are not only jeopardizing this process, but recklessly putting your health and the health of others at risk.”

We shouldn’t have to say this, but if you’re traveling to the U.K. right now, follow the restrictions. This isn’t about you, it’s about everyone around you.

Soon enough, when we’re equipped with digital vaccine passports and hotel quarantine is a thing of the past, we’re just as looking forward to setting off on that sun-soaked holiday.

Yes, we’re close to the end of lockdown. And yes, it’s been a long and grueling year. But the rules are in place to help us cross that finish line. And the only way we can ensure that is to do so collectively.

Featured photo by Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

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