The other day I was wondering if the Westminster government would remember that it needs to (re)create a legal exemption allowing students to go home for Easter, or if it would trap them in situ.
I shouldn’t be so cynical.
On Friday we got the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and Restrictions: All Tiers) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (coming into force on Monday) and the good news is that it has remembered!
Students can move on one occasion from their student household on or after 8th March 2021 but before 29th April 2021 to one other household for the purposes of a vacation, and are then (still) allowed to move “back” to university once.
Two other bits in the regs of note. Political campaigning is now allowed for “election purposes” (ie the impending locals and London) as a reason to be outside the home – that’s useful for student (party) political societies to know.
That surely could mean an absolutely massive boost to student membership of political party societies? That would be good for students and their mental health, good for the parties, and good for local politics. Trebles all round!
As signalled, “open air recreation” will be allowed with your household (including your bubbled/linked household if you have one) or you can meet one one other person not from your household. As we’ve noted before, “households” can be pretty big if we assume it *means* the group that your building owner says it is (ie the whole floor of a set of halls) – so let’s expect the Police not to understand and mess that up multiple times next week, shall we.
Wales and Northern Ireland
Here for reasons much too complicated to go into, the local legal interpretation is that students who study away from home maintain two current households and so haven’t ever been (legally) prevented from “going home”. The guidance has differed at times but it’s the law that matters here.
Meanwhile students from the Channel Islands who are at university in the UK (and are currently, or are about to be, “there”) have been asked not to return home during the Easter holidays.
It’s enforcing this by ensuring that returning students will be subject to the Islands’ Safer Travel Policy requirements which will treat students as Red arrivals. Red arrivals have to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and receive three PCR tests on Day 0, Day 5 and Day 10. Only once a negative Day 10 result has been confirmed can they then leave isolation.
That’s going to be hard on students who stayed “at” university over Christmas in the hope they’d see family in Easter.
And it looks like bad news, for now, for Scotland. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 (which were laid before the Scottish Parliament at 2.45 p.m. on 4th March 2021 and came into force on 5th March) appear to retain the concept of what in Scotland was called an “end of term” household but appear to remove travelling to one as a reasonable excuse.
Because changes are never tracked it’s fiendishly complex but it looks like students who study away from home in Scotland that went home for Christmas are legally allowed to move back to university, but those currently “at” university can’t go home for Easter to Scotland for the time being.