Can I have a holiday in the UK? Coronavirus travel rules explained

Roshina Jowaheer
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From Prima

The information in this story is accurate as of 29 May 2020. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and the latest advice, visit the government's website.

With the recent warm weather and travel abroad still off the table, many Britons are wondering when it will be safe to make the most of the summer temperatures and go on holiday in the UK.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden recently announced that holidays within the UK could return as early as the start of July but the current guidelines stress that overnight stays are not permitted during lockdown.

Are day trips allowed in the UK?

Since the relaxing of lockdown restrictions on 11 May, the government has allowed people to spend time outdoors sitting, enjoying the fresh air, picnicking or sunbathing.

The guidance says there are no restrictions on how far people can travel during lockdown for outdoor activities. It states: "You can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance. You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside your household unless you can practise social distancing – for example by cycling."

This means that trips to beaches, parks and other open spaces are allowed, although there have been reports of crowded beaches and parks since the easing of restrictions, which could make social distancing a challenge.

"Day trips to outdoor open space, in a private vehicle, are permitted," the government guidance states.

However, these measures apply in England and people in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.


In Wales, the message remains for people to 'stay at home,' which means "you should only be outside of your home for very limited reasons". These include visiting a garden centre, exercising locally and obtaining supplies or services for your household.

From 29 May in Scotland, two separate households can meet outdoors in groups of no larger than eight people providing social distancing is practiced, but you "should avoid crowded places" and stay within your local area ( 5 miles as a guide).

Northern Ireland allows groups of up to six people to meet outdoors for non-contact activity. It hasn't specified 'day trips' in its guidance, unlike the rules for England, but has urged people "to be sensible and limit the number of journeys you are taking."


Can I travel for a holiday in the UK?

While day trips are currently allowed in England, staying anywhere other than your primary residence is not permitted.

The guidance says: "Leaving your home - the place you live - to stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed. This includes visiting second homes."

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If you're wondering whether this applies to hotels, Airbnbs, self-catering cottages and B&Bs, restrictions are in place which prevent overnight stays at all holiday accommodations.

"Premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will remain closed, except where providing accommodation for specific reasons set out in law, such as for critical workers where required for a reason relating to their work," the government says.

What about camping?

Campsites are also closed, which means camping is not allowed, but they could be one of the first overnight accommodations to open due to their set-up allowing for social distancing.

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On 19 May, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey also told Sky News: "Having come from Suffolk down to London, I know there are a lot of campsites that are very keen for people to come.

"Some of this is being carefully considered, recognising that we have reduced outdoor transmission risk, that things like camping may well become suitable."

When will holidays in the UK resume?

It has not been announced when accommodation providers will be allowed to open up to visitors but step three of the government's recovery strategy states that the ambition is to "open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close".

This includes "hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation)" and, according to the plan, will be no earlier than 4 July.

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