If you’re a reality television fan who follows your favourite stars online, chances are you have seen some of them jetting off to luxury destinations in recent weeks – despite rising infection rates and restrictions across the UK.
With much of England first plunged into tier four and now lockdown, many seem to be wondering how all of these glamorous breaks have been able to go ahead at a time when millions are being told to stay at home.
From a Love Island star facing charges for alleged Covid breaches in Barbados, to the Celtic football team drawing Scottish government criticism for travelling to Dubai for training – tabloids and social media have been full of scrutiny of these trips in recent days.
So, what is going on and what do the rules say?
Before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict new restrictions starting on 5 January, England was under a tier system across different regions.
The reality is that some of the stars posting their travel on social media in recent weeks may have left the country for their winter breaks when their local area was still under tiers two or three – when the advice about travelling was less strict.
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Guidance urged people to stay local and carefully consider whether they must fly abroad, but did not ban trips explicitly.
The rules were stronger for those who were plunged into the very highest tier four – which was first announced for London and parts of the south east on 19 December before being extended to millions elsewhere last week. In those areas, people were instructed to stay at home by law unless they had a reasonable and legal excuse to leave including for work, shopping or caring responsibilities.
Guidance said people living under tier four could only travel internationally – or indeed elsewhere in the UK – if they first qualified under one of the strictly defined legally permitted reasons to leave home.
Some influencers and celebrities have been tagging brands and talent agencies in their posts – indicating their content shared abroad is sponsored or paid work. And travelling overseas was permitted for work reasons under tier four, when your job could not be done at home.
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