Effective Monday March 8, all Brits trying to leave the UK must prove they are not going on holiday by presenting at check-in a previously downloaded government form. Those suspected of trying to sneak out on vacation will be fined 200 pounds, be refused boarding and sent home. As regards foreign travel, the only exception will be visits to Ireland.
Announcing the penalties, British home secretary Priti Patel said that going on holiday overseas was now illegal until the pandemic was under control. She added that no end date was being announced, but the policy would be under regular review. The only legitimate reasons for foreign travel were now for work, education, significant medical reasons and compassionate journeys to weddings and funerals.
As regards travel to Thailand from UK, potential passengers are being advised by airlines to show a document together with the form to prove they have a bona fide reason to travel. Evidence might include a Thai work permit or student or medical visa, proof of marriage to a Thai national, confirmation of hospital treatment or official notification of a relative’s upcoming marriage or recent death in Thailand.
Passengers are being advised not to take to the airport golf bags, jet skis, tennis equipment fishing rods or similar give-away evidence of the intention to have a pleasurable time abroad. It is also being stressed that all passengers later returning to the UK must have recent proof of a negative Covid-19 test and be subject to voluntary or supervised quarantine of up to 10 days, according to the country of departure. Two further tests must be conducted during that time.
The foreign holiday ban had originally been announced in London a month ago, but policing of the policy had been hazy until now. It is still unclear how comprehensive the policy will be. Ms Patel merely stated that airport departing passengers must be prepared to show the completed or downloaded form and “may” show supporting paperwork. Airport police will have the final say when dealing with confused, angry and distraught passengers.
The Thai embassy in London is unlikely to ban issuing tourist visas or certificates of entry as the new policy is not its responsibility. A Tourist Authority of Thailand spokesman said, “There are bound to be people wanting to come to Thailand for official reasons yet who want a vacation at the same time.” Many travel agents expect the ban to last for a couple of months before the pressures to relax it become too strong and the complexities of enforcement become all too apparent. For example, would a person refused boarding be able to claim a refund?