Guidance

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

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

Applies to England

Travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak

The government has introduced new temporary measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) Omicron variant to slow its arrival and spread and to safeguard the NHS.

Face coverings are now mandatory in transport hubs and public transport, including taxis and private hire vehicles.

Following this guidance will help you stay safe and protect others by controlling the spread. Every action to help reduce the spread will reduce any further resurgence of the virus in the coming months.

Before travelling:

You must wear a face covering when travelling inside a public transport vehicle and when in indoor transport hubs in England, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

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

  • plan your journey and check your route
  • open or keep windows open for ventilation where it is possible for you to do so
  • 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 coughing or sneezing
  • dispose of waste safely, including items such as used disposable face coverings

You must not travel at all if you:

If you are a contact of someone who has COVID-19 and you are fully vaccinated, or aged under 18 years 6 months, you are not required to self-isolate unless that person has been identified as a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Read the stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.

Find out whether you need to self-isolate and how you can protect others if you:

If you get any COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test.

Find out more about what to do if you have COVID-19.

This guidance applies to England only.

If you are crossing from England into Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, you should plan ahead and ensure you understand and comply with the rules for the whole of your journey.

Check the guidance for other UK nations:

Travel and coronavirus testing

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, even if they are mild, you must stay at home while you are waiting for a home self-sampling kit, a test site appointment or a test result. If you need to leave your home to get to a test site, limit your contact with other people and return home immediately afterwards.

If possible, walk, cycle or drive in a private vehicle alone to the test site. If you need to use public transport or are using a private vehicle with other people, follow the guidance on how to travel safely to keep yourself, other passengers and public transport staff safe.

Face coverings

COVID-19 spreads through the air by droplets and aerosols that are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person. Wearing a face covering can reduce the risk to others and yourself against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 infection.

Follow the guidance on how to wear and make a face covering.

Where you must wear face coverings

You must wear a face covering when travelling inside a public transport vehicle and when in indoor transport hubs in England. This includes:

  • public transport services (aeroplanes, trains, trams, buses, coaches and ferries), taxis and private hire vehicles
  • transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • all settings within a transport hub, except for hospitality

Face coverings must be worn in any car or small van during a professionally delivered driving lesson, a practical driving test, or during one of the practical tests for giving driving instruction. They must also be worn in all HGV lessons and tests.

Read separate guidance on driving lessons and learning to drive.

You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

The requirement does not include motorway service areas, other than those parts of the motorway service area where the requirement otherwise does apply, such as in:

  • shops and enclosed shopping areas
  • any premises connected to the motorway service area functioning as a transport hub from which scheduled public transport services are operating

In other indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, you should still continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.

You do not need to wear a face covering in a hospitality setting that is within a transport hub or on public transport. This includes premises where food and drink is consumed inside transport hubs, and buffet cars or dining areas on trains.

Read separate guidance on making face coverings, exemptions cards and what to do if you cannot wear one.

The police, police community support officers, and transport operators can take measures if members of the public do not comply with this law without a valid exemption or a reasonable excuse.

Transport operators can deny access to transport hubs or public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering or direct them to wear one or leave.

If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers, including issuing fines of £200 (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days) for the first offence.

Repeat offenders receiving fines on public transport, in a transport hub, or in another indoor setting will have their fines doubled for each subsequent offence. After the first offence there will be no discount. For example, receiving a second fine will amount to £400 and a third fine will be £800, up to a maximum value of £6,400.

These laws apply while you are in England. If travelling from any other UK nation, or from abroad, you will be required to wear a face covering when you enter England, regardless of the rules in the nation you are transiting from, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

When wearing a face covering:

  • it is important to wash or sanitise your hands before and after touching your face covering
  • use a ‘black bag’ waste bin or litter bin to dispose of it – you should not put face coverings in a recycling bin or drop them as litter
  • be mindful that a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound

You should remove your face covering if asked to do so by a police officer or other relevant person.

The rules for wearing face coverings may be different in the other UK nations. Check the guidance before travelling from England to one of the other UK nations:

Walking and cycling

When travelling, you may decide to walk or cycle to your destination or for part of your journey.

If you decide to walk or cycle, your local council can help you plan your journey by providing maps showing dedicated paths and routes.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling.

Consider making a list of items to take with you.

Private cars and other vehicles

You should wear a [face covering](#face-coverings in crowded and enclosed areas where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet. It is recommended you wear a face covering when travelling in a private vehicle with people you do not usually meet.

Plan your route, including any breaks, before setting out.

Download the NHS COVID-19 app, if possible.

On your journey, open windows to let fresh air in where possible.

At garages, petrol stations and motorway services, where possible, check in using the NHS COVID-19 app if you enter a venue that has an official NHS COVID-19 QR code poster at the entrance. Alternatively, you can provide your contact details.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands often, and always when exiting or re-entering your vehicle.

Public transport

You must wear a face covering when travelling inside a public transport vehicle and when in indoor transport hubs in England.

If you do not wear a face covering in these settings you could be fined, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

Plan your journey

Before and during your journey, check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route:

You may wish to consider if you can:

  • travel at off-peak times
  • use quieter stations and stops – get off a stop early if it’s less busy
  • keep changes to a minimum, for example, between bus and train
  • walk for more of your journey, for example, the first or last mile
  • download the NHS COVID-19 app before travelling
  • make a list of items to take with you

On your journey

Even after you have received a vaccine, you should continue to follow this guidance on how to travel safely when using public transport.

You must wear a face covering when travelling inside a public transport vehicle and when in indoor transport hubs in England, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

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

  • plan your journey and check your route to identify the options for reaching your destination
  • open windows where it is possible and safe to do so
  • 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 coughing or sneezing
  • while waiting for a service to arrive stay outdoors, rather than indoors, where possible
  • dispose of waste safely, including items such as used disposable face coverings
  • respect other people and be considerate of them while travelling
  • be aware of pregnant, older and disabled people who may require a seat or extra space
  • where possible, check in using the NHS COVID-19 app if you enter a venue that has an official NHS COVID-19 QR code poster at the entrance – alternatively, you can provide your contact details

Treat transport staff with respect and follow instructions from your transport operator.

When finishing your journey wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible – do the same for children who have travelled with you

Transport support services for disabled people

All transport support services for disabled people are still available. You can contact providers in advance to understand the COVID-secure measures they have put in place to keep you safe on your journey. For more information, check your rights as a disabled passenger before you travel.

Seek assistance if you need it

If you require assistance when travelling, contact your transport operator as you would normally do.

If any problems arise or you feel ill during your journey, speak to a member of transport staff. In the case of an emergency, contact the emergency services as you normally would

Taxis and private hire vehicles

Even after you have received a vaccine, you should continue to follow this guidance on how to travel safely when using taxis or private hire vehicles.

Follow the advice of the operator and driver. For example, you may be asked to sit in the back left-hand seat if travelling alone. You may want to check with your taxi or private hire operator before travelling if they have put any additional measures in place.

You must wear a face covering when using taxis or private hire vehicles, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

You should use contactless payment if possible, or find out if you can pay online in advance.

Where possible open windows for ventilation when in the vehicle.

Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

When finishing your journey, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible.

Aviation, ferries and maritime transport

You must wear a face covering when travelling inside a ferry, hovercraft (or other passenger vessel) or aircraft in England, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse. This applies:

  • in airspace over England, when you are on board an aircraft which took off from, or is to land at, a place in England
  • in the English territorial sea, when you are indoors on board a vessel which departed from, or is to dock at, a place in England

You must wear a face covering when indoors at airports as well as at ports and terminals used by vessels providing a public transport service.

If you do not wear a face covering in these settings you could be fined, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

Even after you have received a vaccine, you should continue to follow this guidance on how to travel safely.

Before you travel:

  • check with your travel operator and port, or airline and airport for the latest travel advice on your route and whether there are any specific requirements you need to know about
  • download the NHS COVID-19 app, if possible

There is specific guidance for:

Travelling abroad

There is separate guidance on international travel. Read the guidance on:

Different rules apply in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Travelling within the UK or the Common Travel Area

Travelling to England

You can enter England from other parts of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This is known as the Common Travel Area. However, there may be restrictions in place in the area you intend to travel from which prevent you from travelling. For example, if you are in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, there may be restrictions on movement which means you cannot travel to England.

You should check the restrictions in place where you intend to travel from before making arrangements to travel. If you do travel to England, you must follow the restrictions on what you can and cannot do until you arrive in England.

If you’re travelling to England from within the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, you do not need to:

  • complete a passenger locator form
  • take any COVID-19 tests
  • quarantine on arrival in England

You must not have been outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man in the 10 days before you arrive in England

Travelling from England

You may leave England to travel to other parts of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. However, there may be restrictions in place in the area you intend to travel to which prevent you from travelling. You may only be able to travel for certain reasons, such as work. You should check the restrictions in place at your intended destination, such as rules regarding the wearing of face coverings, before making arrangements to travel.

Check the rules on travel from England if you are:

Checklists for safer travel

Plan your journey

  • can you walk or cycle to your destination?
  • have you checked the latest travel advice from your transport operator?
  • have you booked your travel ticket online, or bought a pass?
  • have you planned your journey and checked your route?
  • have you downloaded the NHS COVID-19 app, if you have a smartphone?

What to take with you

  • a face covering
  • a plan for the journey
  • tickets, contactless payment card or pass
  • phone, if needed for travel updates, tickets, contactless payments
  • hand sanitiser
  • essential medicines
  • tissues

Guidance for transport operators

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators

Published 12 May 2020
Last updated 1 December 2021 + show all updates
  1. You must wear a face covering when using public transport and when in indoor transport hubs in England, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse.

  2. British sign language version of guidance added.

  3. Added easy read version of guidance.

  4. Updated guidance about face coverings – you should wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed areas where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet.

  5. People who are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 and 6 months are not required to self-isolate following close contact with someone with COVID-19.

  6. Changes to rules on face coverings and social distancing to reflect Step 4 of roadmap out of lockdown.

  7. Added translation

  8. Added updated easy read version of the guidance.

  9. Update to reflect roadmap out of lockdown.

  10. Added updated easy read version of the guidance.

  11. Added travel and coronavirus testing information.

  12. Travel restrictions update to reflect roadmap out of lockdown.

  13. Link to declaration form for international travel from England added.

  14. Information about new testing, self-isolation and quarantine rules from 15 February.

  15. Requirement for coronavirus testing to travel to England.

  16. Added translation

  17. Added information about coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for people travelling to England.

  18. Added national lockdown information.

  19. Tier 4 local restriction information added.

  20. Updated Christmas travel guidance.

  21. Self-isolation period on arrival in UK changed from 14 days to 10 days.

  22. Added translations of local restriction tiers information.

  23. Local restriction tiers information updated.

  24. Local restriction tiers information added.

  25. Added translation

  26. National restrictions information added.

  27. Added information on local COVID alert levels.

  28. Adding instructions about using the NHS COVID-19 app.

  29. Updated Easy Read guidance to reflect latest rules on social contact and face coverings.

  30. Fines for not wearing a face covering on public transport or in enclosed areas of transport hubs have increased.

  31. Update to reflect new legislation on social contact and the requirement for passengers to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles.

  32. Easy read version of the guidance added.

  33. Added information on areas with local restrictions.

  34. Change to rule on wearing a face covering in transport hubs.

  35. Latest advice on using transport and information on upcoming changes to face covering rules in shops and supermarkets

  36. Added information about travelling into, out of and within areas under local lockdown.

  37. Linking to the list of countries and territories on the travel corridors exemption list.

  38. Social distancing guidance updated.

  39. Updated to reflect the upcoming requirement for passengers to wear face coverings on public transport in England.

  40. Added details of how people with coronavirus symptoms can arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19.

  41. Addition of text 'You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.'

  42. First published.