Non-essential foreign travel is currently banned in the UK, and those that venture abroad must provide a ‘reasonable excuse.’ Travellers without a ‘reasonable excuse’ face a hefty £5,000 fine. As part of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, the ban on non-essential foreign travel could be lifted on 17 May—although nothing has been confirmed—and replaced with a ‘traffic light system,’ which would dictate which travellers would need to quarantine, take multiple PCR tests, or pay for a 10-day stay in a managed ‘quarantine hotel’.
The British public are divided on the plan to lift the ban: 38% would support the lifting of the travel ban in line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, whereas 37% would oppose.
Younger people would be significantly more likely to support lifting the travel ban than older age groups: 61% of 18-to-24-year-olds and 57% of 25-to-34-year-olds say they would support lifting the ban compared to just 29% of those 65 and over. Only 13% of those aged 18 to 24 would oppose a decision to lift the ban, compared to a plurality (45%) of those 65 and over.
The public may be split on the current plan to lift the ban, but 55% would support a decision to extend the ban on non-essential foreign travel, while only a fifth (21%) would oppose an extension.
Although younger people would be very supportive of lifting the travel ban, many would also be supportive of extending the ban. On the other hand, older people would oppose the lifting of the ban and would support the extension of the ban. This finding suggests that younger people are flexible on the issue and more likely to be supportive of whatever decision the Government makes regarding travel, while older people are more likely to support a decision to extend the current restrictions.
Phrased differently, 53% of British respondents think that non-essential travel should remain forbidden after 17 May, while a quarter (23%) think it should be permitted. A further quarter (23%) say they don’t know.
Younger age groups are divided on the issue, with 35% of 18-to-24-year-olds saying that non-essential foreign travel should be forbidden and 32% saying it should be permitted, with a further third (33%) saying they don’t know. The vast majority of 55-to-64-year-olds (73%) and those 65 and over (64%) think non-essential foreign travel should be forbidden.
The high degree of support for an extension is, in part, a consequence of the fact that few intend to travel abroad anyways. Only 22% say they intend to travel abroad for holiday this summer. Given that 47% of the public say they do not intend to travel anywhere on holiday this summer—even domestically, where non-essential travel is currently legal—it is understandable why they may not advocate for others to be able to do so.
Younger people, already significantly more likely to support the lifting of the travel ban, are also more likely to intend to travel abroad this summer. A third (35%) say they intend to travel abroad for holiday this summer, compared to 16% of those 65 and over. It is somewhat remarkable that the proportion of younger respondents who intend to travel is clearly greater than the proportion of older respondents even though the young are less likely to be vaccinated and more likely to have suffered the negative economic effects of the pandemic.