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Detailed guide: Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers

Walking, cycling, and travelling in vehicles or on public transport during the coronavirus outbreak.

Detailed guide: Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers

Published: 02 December 2020
By Chris Haycock



Travel over the festive period

Some social contact restrictions will be different between 23 and 27 December.

You may travel to meet people in your Christmas bubble and return home between the 23 and 27 December . Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel on the 22 and 28 December.

Transport routes may be busier than normal. Plan your journey and check for disruption before you leave to help keep everyone safe when travelling for Christmas. You should avoid making unnecessary stops during your journey. Where possible, avoid sharing a car with people not in your household.

Local restriction tiers

Local restriction tiers apply in England, replacing National restrictions.

Across all tiers you should:

  • walk or cycle if you can where that is not possible, use public transport or drive
  • plan ahead and avoid the busiest routes, as well as busy times

There are 3 tiers for local restrictions.

  • Tier 1: medium alert
  • Tier 2: high alert
  • Tier 3: very high alert

If you live in a tier 1 area:

  • you must follow tier 2 social contact rules when you travel to a tier 2 area
  • you should avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work or education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities
    • if you do travel to a tier 3 area, you must follow tier 3 social contact rules
  • where necessary, you can travel through a tier 3 area as part of a longer journey
  • avoid car sharing with someone from outside your household or your support bubble where possible to reduce the risk of transmission

If you live in a tier 2 area:

  • you must continue to follow tier 2 social contact rules when you travel to a tier 1 area
  • you should avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities
    • if you do travel to a tier 3 area, you should follow tier 3 social contact rules
  • where necessary, you can travel through a tier 3 area as part of a longer journey
  • you should also look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
  • you must not car share with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless your journey is undertaken for an exempt reason for example, if car sharing is reasonably necessary as part of your work

If you live in a tier 3 area:

  • you should avoid travelling outside your area, including for overnight stays, other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities
  • where travel is necessary, you should continue to follow tier 3 social contact rules when you travel to a tier 1 or tier 2 area
  • you should also look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
  • you must not car share with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless your journey is undertaken for an exempt reason for example, if car sharing is reasonably necessary as part of your work

Check the local restriction tiers that apply in the areas you will pass through when travelling.

These tiered restrictions apply to England only. The rules are different in the other UK nations. You should check the rules that apply if you plan to travel to any other part of the UK:

  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
Travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak

You can help control coronavirus (COVID-19) and travel safely by walking and cycling, if you can. Where this is not possible, use public transport or drive.

Local restrictions apply in England. Check the local restriction tiers that apply to the areas you pass through when travelling.

You can also help control coronavirus by:

  • working from home where possible
  • observing social contact rules for your local and destination areas
  • keeping your distance when you travel, where possible
  • washing or sanitising your hands regularly
  • planning ahead and avoiding the busiest routes, as well as busy times like the rush hour
  • downloading the NHS COVID-19 app before you travel, if possible, and checking in where you see official NHS COVID-19 QR code posters

You must not travel at all if you:

  • have been told by the NHS Test and Trace service to self-isolate
  • are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms
  • are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms

You should not travel if you:

  • have been told by the NHS COVID-19 app to self-isolate
  • are clinically extremely vulnerable, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend essential health appointments

These restrictions apply to England only. The rules are different in the other UK nations:

  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
Social distancing

You should maintain a 2 metre distance where possible, because the risk of transmission is small at this distance.

If you cannot keep a 2 metre distance, reduce the risk to yourself and others by maintaining a 1 metre distance where possible, and taking suitable precautions.

Help keep yourself, other passengers and transport staff safe, by taking the following precautions:

  • limit the number of people or households that you come into contact with, for example by avoiding the busiest routes, as well as busy times like the rush hour
  • wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • avoid touching your face
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coug


Highways England news licensed and reproduced under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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