UK restricts South Africa travel amid new Covid variant fears

On the face of it, the rules regarding travel are clear. According to the Government’s guidance: “If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (e.g. for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.”

It adds that you must not leave your Tier 4 area, or travel into a Tier 4 area from another part of the UK, “other than for legally permitted reasons.” 

However, the legislation contains no specific ban on travel, just on leaving your home without good cause. 

So what counts as a “reasonable excuse”? 

The list is extensive. It includes work and shopping (in shops permitted to remain open), taking exercise with your household, linked household, or another person not from your household, as well as open-air recreation, a pretty broad term open to interpretation, in a “public outdoor place” (again, with your household, a linked household, or one other person not from your household). 

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, who dissected the document on Twitter over the weekend, highlights other “reasonable excuses” including seeking medical assistance and  avoiding injury or illness. “[This] includes mental and physical illness,” reasoned Wagner. “In my view, if you need to do something for your mental health, do it.”

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