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The UK has been in strict lockdown since 23rd March following an announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Since then, the population – not including key workers – has been unable to leave their homes other than to top up on essential supplies of food and medication, partake in limited outdoor exercise, and seek medical treatment.

After lockdown measures were eased earlier this month, travel is back on the menu. But what do the new rules mean for those looking to travel for corporate purposes?

Travel within the UK

The recently announced phased exit strategy has unveiled several freedoms in terms of travel. From Wednesday 11th May, people in England have been able to enjoy unlimited outdoor exercise and play sports with members of their household. Unlimited car travel was also given the go-ahead, meaning day trips a little further afield are now possible.

The increased freedom of movement is intended to pave the way for the reopening of numerous businesses from June onwards.

Non-essential shops, including fashion and homeware retailers, will be the first to open. Whilst other businesses (such as high street retailers, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, and cinemas) could be able to open from July with social distancing.

In regards to corporate travel, specific guidance has not been given. However, as the only unacceptable reasons for travel include visiting other households, meeting in public places with more than one member of another household, shopping for purely non-essential items, travelling to a second home, or travelling to another place with the intention of staying overnight, travelling for corporate purposes has not been prohibited.

It’s important to note that travel restrictions still apply in Scotland and Wales, both of which remain in strict lockdown.

Travel outside of the UK

Strangely despite summer being just around the corner, no one can make plans for overseas travel just yet.

Whilst you can travel an unlimited distance for unlimited outdoor exercise within England, overseas trips are still not permitted unless essential. So what is classed as essential foreign travel? The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) defines it, rather poorly, as this according to a recent news article:

“The FCO does not have a simple definition as to what is considered to be essential and non-essential travel. Instead, it is up to the individual to determine in their own mind whether their journey is required. 

In all circumstances where there is active travel advice warning against travel to a country, it is crucial for holidaymakers to call the insurer and get something in writing which will specify what cover will be extended to you during your trip and any exclusions.”

Travelling by plane for business or leisure has already changed for the few foreign journeys that have taken place for essential purposes.

Both cabin crew and passengers must now wear face masks throughout the flight when travelling with most airlines. Planes with fewer passengers are also becoming the norm as airlines look to maintain social distancing at 38,000 feet.

Tips for travelling in England

Non-essential overseas travel may be restricted but current rules do not prohibit travelling for corporate reasons within England. Exercising social distancing to keep you and the public safe is however vital as we look to take control of this virus.

Be vigilant and keep yourself safe outside the home by reading the latest government guidance. You can find further safety advice for travelling on public transport during the pandemic here.