British police won’t arrest illegal holidaymakers leaving the UK

Signs warn British travellers they need a compulsory travel reason.

It’s already illegal for Brits to leave the country by air or sea if they are seeking an overseas vacation. From Monday, March 29, the penalty for defying the law goes from 200 pounds “up to” 5,000 pounds and the possibility of arrest. There is no end date for the new regulations which have been prompted by fears of virus variants being brought back to UK by returning residents.

However, Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs Council, said that police officers on duty at international exit points would not arrest anyone attempting to leave the country. Their role would be restricted to questioning people and handing out penalty notices, but would stop short of physical enforcement.

He added that, if arrests were necessary for any fleeing Brits, that would be the responsibility of the UK Border Force (separate from the police) and private security organizations. He added that, as regards residents returning from abroad, 508 fines had been handed out to people who had broken the self-quarantine regulations by leaving their stated accommodation illegally during the isolation period.

These passengers have successfully negotiated UK immigration rules.

The police chief’s remarks have been interpreted that a softly-softly approach to exiting Brits might be in play. For example, wealthy individuals might not be concerned about the fine, whilst others might argue that their overseas trip was a mixture of business and pleasure. The only paper requirement is to fill in a form at the airport or seaport about why their journey is necessary. Failure to complete the right paperwork carries a fine of 200 pounds.

Moreover, the latest list of 10 reasons include some vague categories in addition to formal work, family responsibilities, medical needs and being an overseas student. Volunteer or charity work is now included and “viewing houses” has been added to the rent or buy clauses. Those “not permanently resident in UK’ are also excluded from the ban which clarifies, as regards Thailand, that returning visa holders and retirees are likely safe.

Meanwhile, Thailand is liberalizing its quarantine regulations. Effective April 1, vaccinated travellers will need spend only one week in compulsory hotel quarantine, whilst others will require 10 days rather than the earlier fortnight. Thailand is also committed to a trial run from July to welcome vaccinated international tourists to Phuket without any quarantine, with a hope to extend to other provinces in October.