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Revised English Covid Regulations from 29 March 2021

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Watershed

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Following on from my previous thread on English Covid Regs from 8 March, this thread is for discussion of the revised English Covid Regs from 29 March 2021.

As always, barrister Adam Wagner gives a good layman's summary of the changes.

All of England is placed into Step 1, which is effectively a continuation of the current restrictions with the following main changes:
  • The requirement to stay at home is abolished (this is notably is not replaced with a ban on overnight stays, as happened last year at this 'stage')
  • Outdoor gatherings are now limited to a maximum of 6 people (or 2 households, if greater). Such gatherings can occur anywhere, including on private property (e.g. gardens)
  • A new offence of travelling to, or being present at, a port for the purposes of leaving the Common Travel Area (or indeed succeeding in leaving the CTA) is introduced. A £5k FPN can be 'offered' to those reasonably suspected of this offence(!)
  • Outdoor protests are once again explicitly endorsed as legal, provided the 'required precautions' (social distancing etc.) are taken, and it is organised by a business, organisation, charity etc.
The existing restrictions on indoor gatherings, shops and hospitality are generally continued, with similar exceptions to now (work, education etc.).

Step 2 is currently slated to begin 2 weeks later, on 12 April, and includes the following major changes as compared to Step 1:
  • 'Non-essential' retail permitted to reopen
  • Close-contact services (e.g. hairdressers) can provide services at their premises again
  • Gyms, libraries etc. can reopen
  • Pubs can reopen, but only for seated outdoor consumption (or takeaway). However, this includes alcohol, without the requirement for a 'substantial' scotch egg ;)
There is also a step 3, which I will discuss when (if) it is introduced.

As part of these changes, the previous system of Tiers has been abolished and replaced with Steps. These line up with the 'phases' outlined in the government's roadmap, although there is no date in the Regulations as to when they will apply.

There is provision for different parts of England to be in different Steps; if the current disparity in case rates across the country continues, the reintroduction of some form of regional Steps (Tier) system seems inevitable.

The expiry date of the new Regs is currently set for 30 June 2021. We'll see about that...
 
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yorksrob

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West Yorkshire has been at more or less the same level of infection since before the first spike. If they think we're going to hang around in the equivalent to tier 3 for ever more, they're going to have a rude awakening (in spite of what that imbecile running North Yorks police may think).
 

ChrisC

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West Yorkshire has been at more or less the same level of infection since before the first spike. If they think we're going to hang around in the equivalent to tier 3 for ever more, they're going to have a rude awakening (in spite of what that imbecile running North Yorks police may think).
South Yorkshire now seems to have higher levels of infection than West Yorkshire. Barnsley and Rotherham levels have both risen during the last couple of weeks. There seems to be a line of high infection levels across the north from the Humber, through South Yorkshire towards Manchester, but it doesn’t reach Liverpool.

I don’t think this should make any difference to any relaxing of restrictions as hospital admissions are still falling as are the number of deaths. It’s just a point to note that there is still this line of areas across the north where infection levels remain well above the national average and are not getting any lower.
 

yorksrob

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South Yorkshire now seems to have higher levels of infection than West Yorkshire. Barnsley and Rotherham levels have both risen during the last couple of weeks. There seems to be a line of high infection levels across the north from the Humber, through South Yorkshire towards Manchester, but it doesn’t reach Liverpool.

I don’t think this should make any difference to any relaxing of restrictions as hospital admissions are still falling as are the number of deaths. It’s just a point to note that there is still this line of areas across the north where infection levels remain well above the national average and are not getting any lower.

Indeed. It's generally recognised that this differential is due to structural issues, such as a high proportion of work that can't be done from home and multi-generational households. It's unacceptable for Northern urban areas to be discriminated against in this way.
 

yorkie

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It's unacceptable for Northern urban areas to be discriminated against in this way.
I think that's the rationale behind the new system; the rules above could have been enacted weeks ago in many areas if we had the Tier system, which as you say would have been unfair. The result is a fair system with everyone having to wait, but one set of national restrictions is probably the only viable and acceptable solution.
 

cuccir

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The key point I think in this period is the first fortnight in April. Right now in late March we're seeing a stabalization in case rates - initially in the context of increased testing, but it now looks like the decline in cases has more or less ended, and I believe that there's clearer evidence of an increase in some areas. To date, the case rates have forshadowed a change in hospitalizations and deaths 7-14 days later. Hopefully we should see something different this time, thanks to the vaccinations. In the best good scenario, hospitalizaitons and deaths continue to fall in those first two weeks of April, and we will know that vaccinations have cracked it.
 

yorkie

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The key point I think in this period is the first fortnight in April. Right now in late March we're seeing a stabalization in case rates - initially in the context of increased testing, but it now looks like the decline in cases has more or less ended, and I believe that there's clearer evidence of an increase in some areas. To date, the case rates have forshadowed a change in hospitalizations and deaths 7-14 days later. Hopefully we should see something different this time, thanks to the vaccinations. In the best good scenario, hospitalizaitons and deaths continue to fall in those first two weeks of April, and we will know that vaccinations have cracked it.
Vaccines are proven to break the link between cases and deaths.

See the Vaccine Progress, Approval, and Deployment thread.
 

nlogax

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Let's give some context to where things stand.

For the whole of the UK, today's figures suggest 5,342 new cases against a backdrop of nearly 1.9 million tests. Meanwhile 42% of the population have received a first vaccination dose. Cases amongst the young make up nearly the entirety of the small overall rise in cases as we might expect, but deaths and hospitalizations continue to fall.

I suggest we're well on our way to a winning situation here.
 

cuccir

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vaccines are proven to break the link between cases and deaths.
Oh I wouldn't want to question that. I'm not trying to talk down the vaccine! I'm just indicating when we will have the certainty of knowledge v the hope/expectation of trial data and comparable cases.

Because what isn't (and couldn't scientifically be) established is whether: at the current infeciton levels in England; under current levels of social mixing; with current levels of vaccination;with the current share of different variants; it will be sufficient to break the link between cases and deaths sufficiently that hospitlaizations and deaths don't start to rise again problematically. Evidence from Israel and trials leads me to think that it will be sufficient but despite the quality of vaccines we can't know for sure the real-world, path-dependent outcome of the current moment. Models try to predict that but we've seen how those are very dependent on the presumptions you make.

By mid-April, we will know for certain whether, in that specific scenario, the link is broken for good. If it is then these next two steps, as we're to now call them, will proceed, and the outlook will be good for the next steps too: and that's the relevance to these new regulations.
 
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Cdd89

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I will dissent and opine that it is actually easier to travel internationally than it was beforehand. There are now no fewer than fourteen exemptions, plenty of which could easily be arranged for yourself. The government clearly recognises it is completely unenforceable which is why it’s had to try and frighten people off with a £5,000 fine.

(Of course the usual deterrents of a small fortune in test kits and the ever-present risk of hotel quarantine apply..!)
 

clagmonster

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  • A new offence of travelling to, or being present at, a port for the purposes of leaving the Common Travel Area (or indeed succeeding in leaving the CTA) is introduced. A £5k FPN can be 'offered' to those reasonably suspected of this offence(!)
I look forward to the first railway suspect to be chinged up for going to Fishguard and back (other ports are avaiable) without rational explanation and being reasonably suspected of attempting to leave the country.
 

Yew

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Evidence from Israel and trials leads me to think that it will be sufficient but despite the quality of vaccines we can't know for sure the real-world, path-dependent outcome of the current moment. Models try to predict that but we've seen how those are very dependent on the presumptions you make.
Then we should follow the stipulations on the application of the public health act, and go for the least restrictive means possible. The harms these measures cause are real and massive, 'we can't know for sure what the outcome is' was never acceptable, and certainly not in the light of the majority of adults being vaccinated.
 

Watershed

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I look forward to the first railway suspect to be chinged up for going to Fishguard and back (other ports are avaiable) without rational explanation and being reasonably suspected of attempting to leave the country.
Unlikely to be grounds for reasonable suspicion on three grounds:
  1. Fishguard & Goodwick is just before the Harbour - so until the train has left the latter, just minutes before the destination, enforcement is difficult
  2. The connection between the train and ferry is currently so poor that no-one could possibly be considering it a viable method of travel!
  3. Most importantly, ferries from Fishguard only run to Rosslare, which is in the Common Travel Area and thus outside the scope of the ban.
Still, I do think there's mileage in what you're saying - the specific provisions for criminalising travel to a port are totally excessive even if you agree with the underlying restriction.

But as written, they would probably make enforcement on the Heathrow Express viable (the Stansted Express serves too many non-travel markets and GX isn't running). Similar would apply for those travelling on direct coaches to the airport, or driving on airport property.

I will dissent and opine that it is actually easier to travel internationally than it was beforehand. There are now no fewer than fourteen exemptions, plenty of which could easily be arranged for yourself. The government clearly recognises it is completely unenforceable which is why it’s had to try and frighten people off with a £5,000 fine.

(Of course the usual deterrents of a small fortune in test kits and the ever-present risk of hotel quarantine apply..!)
I don't think the international travel provisions have been loosened up in any way. In fact they have been strengthened. There is now the 'threat' of a £5k FPN - yes ludicrous, as all these four figure FPNs are, but still a threat.

Several of the reasonable excuses have also been tightened up compared to what they are now. For example, international couples that have been seeing each other through the 'bubble' exemption since last year are now in a grey zone, as that exemption has been removed (but equally, nothing explicitly says it's not a reasonable excuse... this is just like the issue with protests).

The weddings reasonable excuse has also be tightened up to remove the possibility of attending the overseas wedding of a UK resident couple - and there is now a requirement to be a close family member (which did not previously exist).

Now, as you state, the exorbitant cost of testing is enough on its own to put most people off travelling (even if they aren't afraid of Covid). But I think that the underlying restrictions are here to stay for the long term unfortunately.
 

clagmonster

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Unlikely to be grounds for reasonable suspicion on three grounds:
  1. Fishguard & Goodwick is just before the Harbour - so until the train has left the latter, just minutes before the destination, enforcement is difficult
  2. The connection between the train and ferry is currently so poor that no-one could possibly be considering it a viable method of travel!
  3. Most importantly, ferries from Fishguard only run to Rosslare, which is in the Common Travel Area and thus outside the scope of the ban.
Still, I do think there's mileage in what you're saying - the specific provisions for criminalising travel to a port are totally excessive even if you agree with the underlying restriction.

But as written, they would probably make enforcement on the Heathrow Express viable (the Stansted Express serves too many non-travel markets and GX isn't running). Similar would apply for those travelling on direct coaches to the airport, or driving on airport property.
Fishguard was a very poor choice on my part. It is the reasonable suspicion that bothers me - I think you are right that could apply to somebody going to Heathrow (either on the Express, beyond Hayes on Crossrail or beyond Hatton Cross on the Picc). Could even have a copper at one of the airport stations rather than enforcing on train. Similarly, I wonder about Stansted once actually on the branch itself or at the airport station - I suppose interchange onto a Stansted - Birmingham is a possible saving grace.
 

Watershed

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Fishguard was a very poor choice on my part. It is the reasonable suspicion that bothers me - I think you are right that could apply to somebody going to Heathrow (either on the Express, beyond Hayes on Crossrail or beyond Hatton Cross on the Picc). Could even have a copper at one of the airport stations rather than enforcing on train. Similarly, I wonder about Stansted once actually on the branch itself or at the airport station - I suppose interchange onto a Stansted - Birmingham is a possible saving grace.
Yes, I think interchange as you allude to will probably probably the main "non-travel" reason for being on airport property. Such property will effectively otherwise be 'out of bounds' for most people.

Obviously there are still plenty of intra-CTA flights running (which would, again, be another excuse), but if you're intending to catch such a flight then you'd probably have a boarding pass you could show.

I don't think the police have the resources to enforce this restriction all the time but I do foresee some selective enforcement.
 

Cdd89

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I don't think the international travel provisions have been loosened up in any way. In fact they have been strengthened. There is now the 'threat' of a £5k FPN - yes ludicrous, as all these four figure FPNs are, but still a threat.
I can see your point, but surely you agree that the fact the government needs to threaten a £5k FPN shows they have zero confidence in enforcing any of it? The previous restrictions were easier to enforce because they were globally applied.

Now “stay at home” is gone, there is no longer any latitude for the police to refuse travel if you declare that you meet one of the fourteen exemptions.

There is also no pre-existing prohibition to being at an airport if you are in possession of a CTA boarding pass. How is an origin passenger meant to be distinguished from a transit passenger when they’re mixed in the international arrivals area? There will clearly be no checks in International Connections and that area can be easily accessed in most terminals.

The fact that a few exemptions are tighter than the lockdown rules, for example—
The weddings reasonable excuse has also be tightened up to remove the possibility of attending the overseas wedding of a UK resident couple - and there is now a requirement to be a close family member (which did not previously exist).
... is balanced by several others being looser, and codified as reasons to travel abroad. Under the Stay At Home rules people questioned what distances were reasonable, now we have explicit confirmation that you can travel thousands of miles as long as you tick one of those boxes: by being in this list they are definitionally “reasonably necessary”. And while weddings need you to be a close relation, births can be anyone as long as they’ve asked you to be there.

If you travel to the CTA (Ireland), and then genuinely change your mind after leaving the U.K. to travel further, you are outwith the U.K. legislation at the point you decide to travel internationally. That wasn’t available as a loophole under the incumbent rules because travel to the CTA or indeed 2 miles down the road was covered by the Stay At Home rules.

Finally, if you are resident abroad, you can come and go into the UK as often as you like, for tourism or anything else. That’s another thing that wasn’t possible under “stay at home“, but is now fully possible, as I don’t think there are any additional restrictions on entering the United Kingdom and exemption (14) will always apply for departure.

Overall I think the fine (and a few tighter reasons) are outweighed by the factors above, all of which are easier than under the existing regime.
 

IanXC

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Unlikely to be grounds for reasonable suspicion on three grounds:
  1. Fishguard & Goodwick is just before the Harbour - so until the train has left the latter, just minutes before the destination, enforcement is difficult
  2. The connection between the train and ferry is currently so poor that no-one could possibly be considering it a viable method of travel!
  3. Most importantly, ferries from Fishguard only run to Rosslare, which is in the Common Travel Area and thus outside the scope of the ban.
Still, I do think there's mileage in what you're saying - the specific provisions for criminalising travel to a port are totally excessive even if you agree with the underlying restriction.

But as written, they would probably make enforcement on the Heathrow Express viable (the Stansted Express serves too many non-travel markets and GX isn't running). Similar would apply for those travelling on direct coaches to the airport, or driving on airport property.

Quite amusingly it seems that if a 'relevant person considers' that a person has travelled to an embarkation point with the intention of travelling outside the UK they can be 'directed to complete a travel declaration form' - which would be an interesting situation if the person had not in fact travelled to the embarkation point with that intention!
 

Watershed

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I can see your point, but surely you agree that the fact the government needs to threaten a £5k FPN shows they have zero confidence in enforcing any of it?
The government has tended to threaten large "fines" for whatever the public enemy of the month is. It's nothing more than drum-beating populism. The fine of the month happens to be £5k for daring to use your passport.

Enforcement is relatively easy for this one (certainly easier than for other offences they've created), it's just a question of resources. They've even taken the liberty of forcing everyone to incriminate themselves.

The previous restrictions were easier to enforce because they were globally applied.
I'd almost argue the opposite - these restrictions only apply in one context, and thus even a fraction of the resources invested in enforcing "stay at home" can achieve much more widespread and effective enforcement of the travel ban.

Now “stay at home” is gone, there is no longer any latitude for the police to refuse travel if you declare that you meet one of the fourteen exemptions.
Clearly there is still a degree of latitude (otherwise how could false declarations be enforced) from a legal perspective.

And from a practical perspective, we all know that the police (or whoever is going to enforce this) will just make up rules if it suits their agenda. I fully expect for some people with reasonable excuses to be denied travel as they "haven't got [enough] proof".

There is also no pre-existing prohibition to being at an airport if you are in possession of a CTA boarding pass.

How is an origin passenger meant to be distinguished from a transit passenger when they’re mixed in the international arrivals area? There will clearly be no checks in International Connections and that area can be easily accessed in most terminals.
True, but we are now getting into the realms of circumventing the restrictions. Clearly, it's possible, but it's too expensive and time consuming for most people to bother. The government is happy as long as gives the appearance of being tough.

... is balanced by several others being looser, and codified as reasons to travel abroad. Under the Stay At Home rules people questioned what distances were reasonable, now we have explicit confirmation that you can travel thousands of miles as long as you tick one of those boxes: by being in this list they are definitionally “reasonably necessary”. And while weddings need you to be a close relation, births can be anyone as long as they’ve asked you to be there.
True, there are some easements. But for example the removal of the explicit provisions for overseas bubbles is a considerable retrograde step, and one that will have deleterious consequences for thousands of people.

If you travel to the CTA (Ireland), and then genuinely change your mind after leaving the U.K. to travel further, you are outwith the U.K. legislation at the point you decide to travel internationally. That wasn’t available as a loophole under the incumbent rules because travel to the CTA or indeed 2 miles down the road was covered by the Stay At Home rules.
Again, most people won't think of this, or would simply find it too expensive etc. to bother. Still, it gives creative legal minds a way of circumventing the ban.

Finally, if you are resident abroad, you can come and go into the UK as often as you like, for tourism or anything else. That’s another thing that wasn’t possible under “stay at home“, but is now fully possible, as I don’t think there are any additional restrictions on entering the United Kingdom and exemption (14) will always apply for departure.
I think this is probably the most objectionable part of the 'travel ban'. If it's so dangerous abroad that we can't possibly allow people to leave, why are we allowing people from those dangerous lands in for a jolly?

It underscores how awfully pathetic and pandering these restrictions are.

Overall I think the fine (and a few tighter reasons) are outweighed by the factors above, all of which are easier than under the existing regime.
The removal of the 'stay at home' restriction couldn't come too soon. But the overseas travel ban is a considerable imposition that I can sadly foresee lasting for a long time.

Quite amusingly it seems that if a 'relevant person considers' that a person has travelled to an embarkation point with the intention of travelling outside the UK they can be 'directed to complete a travel declaration form' - which would be an interesting situation if the person had not in fact travelled to the embarkation point with that intention!
It's no laughing matter in my book - we will see instances of these powers being abused. No question about it.
 

Cdd89

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All good points @Watershed , and we could probably debate it until Christmas :smile:

I guess the only one I’d raise in response is:

1- Is all this “new” stuff, or the existing rules about quarantines, testing and red lists, more effective in reducing travel? (I’d strongly argue the latter)

2- To the extent that these rules will be processed by the general public, it will start and end with “£5k ‘fine’ for going abroad”. The crazy fine is doing the “scaring”, not the rules themselves.

It's no laughing matter in my book - we will see instances of these powers being abused. No question about it.

I entirely agree here. The words “reasonably necessary” accompany every excuse, so I agree there is quite some latitude for an officer giving an FPN if they don’t like what you’ve said for any reason. Of course I don’t think anything borderline would stand up in court
 

Watershed

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Here's a question then, can the English Police enforce the Scottish Restrictions in England?
The devolved nations' regulations can't and don't apply extraterritorially. So the Scottish regulations can't be applied in England.

That said, police of either nation could cooperate to enact the arrest or prosecution etc. of someone suspected of breaching the other's regulations.
 

221129

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The devolved nations' regulations can't and don't apply extraterritorially. So the Scottish regulations can't be applied in England.

That said, police of either nation could cooperate to enact the arrest or prosecution etc. of someone suspected of breaching the other's regulations.
Fair enough thank you. Just wondered how it would stand if I smuggled myself across the border when England opens up as I'd be following England's regulations whilst there.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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Fair enough thank you. Just wondered how it would stand if I smuggled myself across the border when England opens up as I'd be following England's regulations whilst there.
Depends if Scottish regulations have been amended by your time of travel to permit such a journey though (not that I will be trying to stop you as I want to come to your country)
 

221129

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Depends if Scottish regulations have been amended by your time of travel to permit such a journey though (not that I will be trying to stop you as I want to come to your country)
But if the Scottish regulations can't be enforced in England then it doesn't really matter whether they have changed?
 

Nicholas Lewis

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But if the Scottish regulations can't be enforced in England then it doesn't really matter whether they have changed?
Fair point or perhaps the Scottish Police will send extradition papers for you!!

The whole things a joke and the capitulation of the population to the dicatorships in all United Kingdom nations is demoralising
 

Kite159

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Fair enough thank you. Just wondered how it would stand if I smuggled myself across the border when England opens up as I'd be following England's regulations whilst there.

I wouldn't be surprised if you won't be the only one from Scotland wanting to escape to England for a holiday.

I would imagine pubs in Carlisle/Newcastle/Berwick will be busy with Scottish notes when they are allowed to reopen.
 

HamworthyGoods

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I look forward to the first railway suspect to be chinged up for going to Fishguard and back (other ports are avaiable) without rational explanation and being reasonably suspected of attempting to leave the country.

Not sure how you’d get accused of leaving the Common Travel Area at Fishguard as the only place ferried go to from Fishguard is the Republic of Ireland which is within the Common Travel Area - notice the legislation specifically says the Common Travel Area not the United Kingdom.
 

berneyarms

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Unlikely to be grounds for reasonable suspicion on three grounds:
  1. Fishguard & Goodwick is just before the Harbour - so until the train has left the latter, just minutes before the destination, enforcement is difficult
  2. The connection between the train and ferry is currently so poor that no-one could possibly be considering it a viable method of travel!
  3. Most importantly, ferries from Fishguard only run to Rosslare, which is in the Common Travel Area and thus outside the scope of the ban.
Still, I do think there's mileage in what you're saying - the specific provisions for criminalising travel to a port are totally excessive even if you agree with the underlying restriction.
A complete side point, but the rail connections at Fishguard to/from the ferry are no different from the normal ones pre-Covid, except that the late train from Fishguard currently terminates at Carmarthen rather than Swansea.

Yet people did still use it.

If you travel to the CTA (Ireland), and then genuinely change your mind after leaving the U.K. to travel further, you are outwith the U.K. legislation at the point you decide to travel internationally. That wasn’t available as a loophole under the incumbent rules because travel to the CTA or indeed 2 miles down the road was covered by the Stay At Home rules.

As an FYI, you would of course be subject to Irish domestic law should you travel to Ireland, and also note that Irish travel restrictions apply to CTA arrivals.

If you travel to Ireland from GB, you are required under Irish legislation to have a negative PCR test result before 72 hours of your arrival into Ireland, and you must then self-isolate for 14 days at the address specified on the passenger locator form that you are legally obliged to complete.

Add to that you are then subject to the current restrictions in Irish law of not being allowed to travel more than 5km from your place of residence except for certain essential purposes. So probably not your best option!
 

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Hancock kicks of these regs in HoC with some very positive news on mortality and admissions but didn't last beyond the first minute before he pours cold water that we aren't out of the woods cases are going up again (fails to mention that as % they've gone down as tests have been doubled) and we must remain cautious. Harper tells him modelling is using wrong assumptions he says cases aren't a real issue now anyhow it admissions (well there down massively). Keeps coming back to protect the NHS as the only thing that matters.

Labour front bench support of course although fair do's to their Graham Stringer who challenges over what data thresholds are being used and right asserts that data not dates is just as a slogan.

Liberals are against it so at least one party can see the reality of the situation and how ironic that its right wing Tories that are also in the same camp.

Swayne excels again with twin barrels
 

Yew

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Liberals are against it so at least one party can see the reality of the situation and how ironic that its right wing Tories that are also in the same camp.
And there was me saying that I'd never support the liberals after the Tuition Fees fiasco...
 
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