A year after its first lockdown, the U.K. is doubling down on its efforts to contain the new surge of COVID-19 with what might be one of the most stringent measures yet — a proposed £5,000 (about $6,898) fine for anyone who travels outside of England during the current restrictions, CNN reported.
The new fine, which is being proposed as part of the U.K.'s "Roadmap Regulations," would apply to anyone traveling "without a reasonable excuse" during the current stay-at-home orders. It will be voted on by the parliament on Thursday. If passed, the law would go into effect this coming Monday, March 29, and remain through June 30, confining Brits to stay within their borders for another 90 days.
That means anyone who had been hoping for a spring or early summer vacation would have to cancel their plans. The news of the proposal immediately affected travel company stocks, with EasyJet, TUI, and Jet2 all down in trading on Monday and early Tuesday, Reuters reported.
"We are seeing this third wave rising in some parts of Europe, and we're also seeing new variants. It is very important that we protect the progress we've been able to make here in the U.K.," Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News. He added that the timeline could change based on a government review of international travel next month. "The questions of whether people will be able to travel abroad this summer are going to be addressed by the Global Travel Taskforce, which is reporting around April 12."
For now, the law imposes a £200 fine for those who break the current order to "not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a 'reasonable excuse,'" which can include work, volunteering, education, childcare, exercise, medical reasons, maternity, compassionate visits, animal welfare, communal worship, and meeting others within a bubble. That fine can be multiplied for recurring offenses, up to a total of £6,400.
The U.K. has seen a total of 4,315,602 cases and 126,411 deaths since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 38,762 new cases and 594 deaths in the last week, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, making it the nation with the sixth-highest number of cases. The U.K. government data shows that the current rate of infection is 57.1 per 100,000 residents.
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