Simon Calder discusses border closures and travel
Following Boris Johnson’s decision to ban travel for Britons in London and the South East over Christmas, the Government has promised to refund any ail and coach passengers now impacted by cancellations. The last-minute U-turn on Christmas travel was made following the emergence of what the Government describes as a “new variation” of the coronavirus.
Adding further concern, Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated this new strain of the virus was “out of control”.
Emergency measures saw the development of a new fourth tier added to the lockdown tier system, which means those currently in affected areas can no longer travel out of their region over Christmas.
It comes just days after the Prime Minister said cancelled his five-day relaxation of the rules in favour of “Christmas bubbles” would be “inhumane”.
In a bid to ensure people stick to the rules, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has vowed the Government will reimburse all train and coach passengers who are now impacted.
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He said: “It is imperative that we all follow the new measures and play our part in tackling this virus, protecting others and safeguarding our NHS.
“If you booked a coach or rail journey between December 23 and 27, you are entitled to a cash refund.
“This ensures no one is left out of pocket for doing the right thing – staying home in tier 4, and elsewhere staying local and only meeting your Christmas bubble on Christmas day.”
However, only passengers who booked train or coach tickets after the Christmas travel relaxation was announced on November 24 will be eligible for a refund.
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Tickets booked after Mr Johnson’s address to the nation on Saturday will not be able to get their money back.
The latest rule change came after ministers stated the new virus strain is around 70 percent more contagious.
As a result, now households may only mix on Christmas day, instead of the previously suggested five days.
Britons in the new tier 4 are now living under very similar conditions to those imposed during national lockdown.
According to the Government: “Under tier 4 restrictions, non-essential shops, hairdressers and leisure and entertainment venues will close, with a new ‘stay at home’ message introduced.
“People who need to travel for education or childcare will be exempt, and exercise will be unlimited.”
The new measures were rapidly put in place on December 20 and will be reviewed on December 30.
Elsewhere in the world, many nations are closing their borders to UK arrivals.
Border closures swept across the world after Matt Hancock’s grave words about a lack of “control” of the new virus.
France has closed all of its borders for around two days causing major chaos at ports.
The rest of the EU also followed suit, putting a stop to ferries, flights and trains.
Canada, India, Kuwait and Turkey have also been among non-EU nations to ban arrivals from the UK.
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