Level 4 Travel Rules: Can I still go on vacation and see family at Christmas?

Millions of people, mainly in London, East Anglia and the South East of England, have been placed in a new Level 4, with extremely strict travel rules. In addition, the Christmas easing allowing three households to mix has been reduced to one day: December 25.

“Now is not the time for unnecessary travel,” said government chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

These are the key questions and answers, starting with the level 4 rules that now apply to residents of the South East Quadrant of England, from East Hampshire to Oxfordshire, to Norfolk, in south to Kent and to Southampton and all points in between.

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I just found out that I am at level 4. What does this mean for travel?

Unless there is a primary reason for you to travel – for work, education, medical treatment, family responsibilities, and urgent humanitarian reasons such as visiting a terminally ill person – you will need to stay at home.

Pleasure travel is not permitted in your tier, elsewhere in the UK or overseas.

People who have recovered from the coronavirus or have been vaccinated should follow the rules with everyone.

Some people have suggested that guidance is voluntary. But although the legislation has yet to be released, the government’s point of view is clear: “If you live in a level 4 area, you have to stay home. You must not leave your home to travel, except for work, study or other legally permitted reasons.

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I live on level 4 and have booked a vacation. What are my rights ?

Hundreds of thousands of people living in affected areas of England have travel plans for Christmas, New Years and through 2021 have been ordered to stay at home.

But pan-European travel bans mean most departures have been canceled for the rest of the year, with full refunds available

Read more: Can you travel in and out of level 4 zones?

But have I booked flights separately?

If the flight is canceled, you will be able to get a full refund. If this continues, you may be able to postpone the trip or get a credit note and, in the case of easyJet, get their money back.

The low-cost airline has a remarkably generous policy in place for departures up to and including December 30: “Affected customers in level 4 areas have the option of transferring free of charge to another flight, receiving a voucher or to receive a refund. “

British Airways has a ‘book with confidence’ policy in place which allows cancellations for a voucher, not a refund.

Ryanair said it would only operate “a small number of flights” until January 3 – mainly to support passengers who need to travel for essential reasons and to bring home UK travelers stranded abroad.

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Anyone who has booked on one of the operating flights has limited options. The airline insists its usual terms apply and only offers “no charge” deferrals until mid-March – with the caveat that any fare difference must be paid.

But when a flight is canceled, European air passenger rights rules insist that a full refund is due. On a return trip, if a leg is canceled, the traveler is entitled to a refund for the entire trip.

Ryanair said: “All affected customers will receive an email notification and will be offered practical alternatives, including a free move or a refund if they wish.”

The presumption of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is that if a passenger is unable to travel due to government restrictions, they should be entitled to a full cash refund, but this is not not tested by law.

I am at level 1/2/3 but I have booked a trip from a level 4 airport. Can I go?

The main Level 4 airports – Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, London City and Southampton – will remain open and people on other levels will be able to access them, whether by plane or by plane.

The government states: “If you live outside of a level 4 zone, you can still transit to or through a level 4 zone to travel abroad if you need to, but you must carefully consider whether you must do it. “

Read more: Level 4 international travel: can you still travel abroad?

Can I pick up someone from the airport?

In this case, two sets of rules seem to conflict with each other. Government guidelines on self-isolation for arriving travelers say, “Only use public transportation if you have no other option. ”

The implication: ideally, a member of the household where the traveler will be in quarantine can come and pick him up at the airport. But that would violate the stipulation not to leave your home.

It is not clear whether picking up someone counts as a “reasonable excuse”. Overall, if you can make the round trip to the airport without stopping along the way, it can reduce your chances of contracting (or spreading) the coronavirus.

I live in level 4 but have to travel abroad to work. What proof should I take?

The criterion for all exemptions from the “do not travel” policy is simply this: is your trip reasonable?

Some employers provide letters (usually human resource managers) to traveling staff explaining their reasons for traveling.

Airlines believe that people will be sufficiently qualified to travel, and any kind of official screening of outgoing passengers is highly unlikely.

But if asked, something like a company-issued travel itinerary or letter of commitment should suffice.

Can I use public transport to make an authorized trip in level 4?

Yes. The government says, “We encourage you to walk or cycle whenever possible. But there is no general warning against using buses, trains, trams or, in London, the underground.

Will public transport operate normally?

The presumption – based on past practice – is that a near normal service will work. The government advises: “Plan ahead and avoid rush hour and public transport routes. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you are traveling. But with so few passengers, keeping your distance is unlikely to be a problem.

I have a train ticket to or from a level 4 location. Can I change or cancel it?

You can change it but, if it is an Advance ticket, you cannot get a refund. On Friday, perhaps to prepare people for this development, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps announced that Advance ticket modification fees would be waived.

Travel between Scotland and England is prohibited. Will the trains still run?

LNER, which connects Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and many other stations in Newcastle, York and London, says: “People may still need to travel if they are key workers or essential travelers, so we will continue to operate services. “

Avanti West Coast, which connects Glasgow and Edinburgh to the North West of England, the West Midlands and London, says: “We are awaiting confirmation of the next steps. Of course, no pleasure travel will be allowed.

What about domestic flights?

Several thousand people will have booked flights to travel to or from what are now Level 4 addresses. These trips can no longer take place now. Again, the airlines will decide their own policies.

As a guide, many domestic flights are unlikely to be canceled.

I am on vacation in a level 4 zone. Can I continue as planned?

No. The government says, “If you are already on vacation in a level 4 area, you should go home as soon as possible.

I have a Christmas hotel / Airbnb reservation in what is now a Level 4 zone. Can I use it?

No. “People should not enter or leave level 4 areas, and level 4 residents should not spend the night far from their homes,” the government said.

The key question is: what are your rights now that you are forced to terminate?

As the contract was “frustrated” in legal terms, the CMA says you should expect a full refund. Some providers, including Airbnb, say normal terms apply, but this policy can be challenged in court.

How will the new measures be applied?

It’s not clear. But it is assumed that people will do the right thing.

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