Holidaymakers slam £5000 travel fine as unfair on working-class Brits

A £5000 travel fine for people who leave the UK without a reasonable excuse will come into effect next week

ALICANTE, SPAIN - 2016/08/07: El Postiguet Beach in Alicante. Alicante city is crowded with tourists during the month of August where high temperatures and sunny days are expected. (Photo by Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Britons who holiday abroad will soon face a £5000 fine - and people are already getting heated. 

The steep penalty, which has been written into legislation that comes into effect in the UK next week, will apply to anyone who leaves the country ‘without reasonable excuse.’ The news has been met by a wave of backlash, with many people claiming that the new law will unfairly affect Britain’s working-class and low-income earners.

Critics have argued that the introduction of a travel fine is biased in favor of wealthy folks, who would be able to pay the large chunk of money if penalized. 

“Any law where the punishment is a fine is a joke, may as well just say it doesn’t apply to the rich,” one Twitter user wrote in response to the controversial punishment. 

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“This £5000 fine for going abroad (except for some circumstances) is so discriminatory it's unbelievable. Again Boris and the boys showing it's different rules for the haves and have-nots,” another angry person pointed out. 

Except in specific circumstances, nobody is allowed to ‘leave England to travel to a destination outside the United Kingdom, or travel to, or be present at, an embarkation point for the purpose of traveling from there to a destination outside of the United Kingdom.’ 

This ban on traveling abroad was already in place, but the current penalty for breaking the rule is far less severe. At the moment, people can be fined a flat fee of £200 for failing to fill out a travel declaration form before leaving the UK. 

As of March 29, people will need to prove that their journey outside of the UK is essential. 

There are a number of exemptions that allow residents to travel abroad, one of which is for the ‘purchase, sale, letting or rental of residential property.’ The controversial exception has been referred to as the ‘Stanley Johnson clause’ after the Conservative Party politician left the country last summer to carry out ‘business’ at his villa in Greece.  

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/10/16: Stanley Johnson, the father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is spotted out and about in London. (Photo by Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Stanley Johnson was heavily criticized after he travelled to Greece for 'business' last summer 

(Image credit: Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“For hardworking families facing the prospect of missing out on summer holidays, it will stick in the craw that the government has inserted a 'Stanley Johnson clause' to Covid rules that allow people to come and go if they have property abroad,” Labour MP Andrew Gwynne told the Guardian. “It seems it's one rule for them and another for the rest of us.”

Other valid excuses to flee the country include work or study commitments, legal obligations, and medical appointments. Personal duties like childcare, visiting a sick relative or close friend, and attending funerals are also accepted as reasons to travel abroad. Escaping the risk of harm is another approved reason to leave. 

The earliest date Brits will be allowed to freely travel abroad is May 17, but this is subject to change depending on infection rates. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.