Report: U.K. May Head Back Into Lockdown, Ban Travel

The U.K. may go back into lockdown – from late December through January – including a ban on travel, not permitting British residents to leave or letting foreign visitors to enter.

The plan under discussion has several parts:

  • Putting the country into lockdown. Lockdown would mean closing restaurants, bars, hotels and non-essential businesses and even placing limits on outdoor gatherings.

    Omicron is spreading throughout the U.K. at a rapid rate. The country is seeing more cases than at any time in the pandemic. They are not yet seeing greater hospitalizations or ICU stays. That’s consistent with both hypotheses of background immunity (vaccination and prior infection) and reduced severity. But there’s a concern that low hospitalizations in South Africa may not translate elsewhere because immunity there could be specific to the Beta variant of the virus that didn’t circulate widely elsewhere.

  • Banning most foreigners from entering the country. It’s unclear what this would get the U.K. since Omicron is already spreading rapidly there. It’s not a play to ‘keep the variant out of the country.’

  • Banning most residents from leaving (no leisure travel). If banning travel to keep out the virus when the virus is already spreading like wildfire makes no sense, surely keeping people in makes even less. Maybe it’s a gift to the world if UK residents would be traveling with the virus, but it’s already spreading throughout the world as it is and in any case won’t reduce the U.K.’s pandemic burden.

    Keeping residents inside the country was at least logically coherent for Australia where they had a state quarantine system with limited beds, and most people that left would have a hard time coming back. And the ban apparently wouldn’t apply to business travel, so if you’re traveling with economic purpose you are apparently immune from Covid-19?

Now, either these measures are necessary or they aren’t. But they apparently wouldn’t go into effect until December 27. At the speed at which Omicron multiplies this could be three doublings from now. It’s a national emergency that requires a massive imposition on liberty, but isn’t so important as to disrupt Christmas (the median voter theory trumps ‘the science’ it seems).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I hope so. This is likely the turning point for Covid restrictions. In South Africa cases are already on the decline and outcomes were much more mild than previous spikes.

    The over the top reaction from public health academics and politicians is likely to look pretty silly in retrospect once Omicron runs its course. Imagine a scenario where a country locks down, the population basically ignores the order and almost nobody dies. That’s the most likely outcome I see right now.

    And it’s the outcome we should root for regardless of politics. Sadly many will hope for death to prove themselves right for overreacting.

    Sadly one day we may have a real public health issue that people ignore due to the wolf cries and loss of faith in institutions. But hey, that’s a tomorrow issue. And why bother caring about tomorrow when there’s political points to be scored today?

  2. So some buscuits salesman can still go in and out freely while people cant see their families.

    Beyond ridiculous.

  3. This comes from an article in the mirror, a joke of a paper in the UK and one generally people ignore their sensationalism

  4. LOL. Absurd.
    Will they still be able to go to dental appointments?….(that was a trick question)

  5. The problem in the UK is their socialized medicine system. Although, the sheeples there continue to be deluded into thinking it’s marvelous. It ain’t. I see too many of my relatives basically being put onto the Liverpool pathway (i.e., please die and save us the problem). Even the populist Sun newspaper is starting to get it:
    “But something is surely wrong when a health service funded by unimaginable sums, including a looming National Insurance rise, is perpetually on the brink of catastrophe.”

    Indeed, in an earlier piece, the Sun hits the mail on the head:
    “Are we going to have a collective panic attack every time a new variant of Covid emerges?
    Definitely! Because there are so many vested interests in this never-ending state of emergency.
    Bossy politicians who have developed an addiction to levels of social control that would have been unthinkable two years ago.
    Bungling organisations, from your local council to your bank, use Covid as a cover for appalling customer service.
    Civil servants are using the virus as an excuse to skive (US translation: Goof off) from home for ever.
    Left-wing teaching unions and devolved governments use Covid as a big stick to beat Boris.
    And this Tory Government can blame historic levels of taxation on Covid.
    Oh, what a lovely virus!
    The horrible, unspoken truth is that a lot of people are absolutely loving it.
    The power-mad, the lazy, the incompetent.
    And if they have their way, then every time the virus mutates — as it surely will — schools will be shut, offices abandoned, healthy businesses shuttered, planes grounded, operations cancelled, cancer patients told to fend for themselves and youngsters with their hormones raging advised to do their courting on Zoom.
    And they are sucking the joy out of what it means to be alive.
    They are condemning a generation of students to a stunted, tenth-rate education.
    They are destroying healthy businesses and condemning hard-working grafters to the dole queue.
    And this country is overreacting to the point of madness.”

    All that wanker Boris and his Eton chums are afraid of is that someone will realize their NHS is build on a foundation of sand and then what…..?
    BTW, if you look at countries with the most Draconian lock down policies, guess what? Socialized medicine.
    Here (US) it’s a bit different with over 90% of the population covered by health insurance, but with the media’s fear porn, in lock step with a certain segment of the political universe, it’s another matter in practical terms.
    Everyone has an agenda, it seems, when it comes to COVID.
    And I speak as one who is double vaxxed, boosted, and am the guy you see wearing the mask in the store. So if I’ve had enough of this two-faced lunacy…. really??

  6. @Ryan most of the people in south africa either had covid or were vaccinated. Most of their infected were also younger people who were not high risk. Therefore we can’t conclude it is a mild variant when it comes to unvaccinated people. It has killed like a dozen people in the UK already and we know deaths when they occur usually come well after infections. Only time will tell.

  7. @Bill you may be right. But why can’t you just hope to be wrong? If you’re wrong it means less death. You may see my opinion as overly optimistic, but there needs to be optimism.

    The leading cause of death 18-49 now isn’t Covid, it’s drug overdose. Driven by a sense of doom and gloom.

    So understand that lockdowns, restrictions, etc may save lives, but it also takes lives in unintended ways. No solution is perfect.

    So maybe, just maybe hope that all the data, not the opinions, prove accurate and Omicron is a whole bunch of nothing.

  8. @Woofie Re. the NHS you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Not a clue. Stick to what you know about and not what you get/hear anecdotally and you won’t look quite as uninformed as your comment makes you out. Yes, there are NHS funding issues that have needed addressing for years, but the NHS is considerably better for people than whatever joke system we pretend to have over here.

    P.S. Quoting an opinion from a “newspaper” like the Sun to back up your opinion, is a fantastic way of signaling that your opinion is worth less than the paper the Sun is printed on. You’d be on firmer ground quoting the Enquirer.

  9. @Woofie
    As a doctor who used to work in the NHS (Now a medical device company owner) I can categorically say you have no clue what you are talking about. People are not deluded here. The NHS is a wonderful system and one of the few in the world that is free at the point of delivery where you will receive the same treatment regardless of whether you are a Lord or a working-class citizen.

    Firstly the Liverpool pathway no longer exists and hasn’t for many years but was replaced by a similar End of Life Pathway. EOL pathway is reserved entirely for people who are palliative or in situations where an elderly patient with significant comorbidities is very unlikely to survive intervention and would simply be subjected to a slower painful death. Decisions to place patients on EOL pathway are taken very seriously with multi-disciplinary discussions and with family. Lay people and families often struggle to come to terms with this as there is a natural tendency for people to believe one should exhaust all possible treatment options regardless of the pain and suffering that will come as a result in the hope of a 0.01% chance of prolonging life.

    I can assure you that as doctors we do not make our decisions based on cost (as happens in other countries) and we have free reign to make decisions as professionals in the best interests of patients. Not once in my career did I feel pressure to make decisions as cost saving mechanisms (and at the end of the day my salary is unaffected) and every decision I and my colleagues made was always in the best interest of that patient. It is true that in USA and other countries there are often decisions made to over-treat because of the financial gains associated with doing so.

    It is true that the NHS is not so efficiently run and is definitely underfunded (part of the reason why clinicians here earn 5-10x less than their counterparts in USA) however the treatment of conditions is very good and we have some of the best clinicians in the world (along with USA and other western countries).

    Don’t get me wrong, the NHS does have some problems when it comes to treatment however these are always in areas where the importance of treatment is low. I often see social media posts from Americans regarding the NHS and how there are extensive waiting lists for people with cancer and serious conditions…. This is not the case at all. All cancer patients and serious conditions are investigated, diagnosed and treated rapidly after presentation of initial symptoms under the 2WW system. On the other hand if one had gallstones and recurrent biliary colic for example it is true that you may end up on a 3-4 month waiting list for surgery where you may be treated significantly faster in the US.

    UK achieves almost identical outcomes to USA at 50% the cost. This is the same across the majority of the western world (See: This is in part due to a combination of significantly over-charging citizens (morally questionable when it comes to healthcare) and a general tendency to over-treat.

    I would have no problems living in the USA as they do have excellent healthcare and availability to medical resources but I do feel sorry for low-income people and households in such a system. Health is something that I believe is a basic human right and I am very glad to live in a country that has a system where I can support the poorest people in society to have access to the same quality treatment as me.

  10. Was planning to visit family after New Year’s in the UK. Obviously I won’t go if there’s some kind of quarantine hotel, and it sounds like they can’t deny me access as a UK citizen, but will my non-UK family members be banned? I am a also US citizen and resident, so they can’t actually ban me from going home right?

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