How a loophole nicknamed the 'Stanley Johnson clause' allows overseas travel despite the Covid ban

Stanley Johnson in Greece.
Stanley Johnson in Greece in July 2020. Credit: AP

A loophole in the Covid restrictions that bans overseas travel has been nicknamed after the Prime Minister's own father - the "Stanley Johnson clause".

International travel is banned under coronavirus rules to be voted on by MPs, aside from a few circumstances the government has laid out as "reasonable excuses".

One of these is travel in connection with foreign homes.

ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener explains the system:

The exemption, dubbed the "Stanley Johnson clause" will allow trips for the "purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property".

The Prime Minister's father was criticised last July after it emerged he had travelled to Greece to visit his mountain villa - despite government advice urging Britons against all but essential international travel.

He argued that he was on "essential business trying to Covid-proof my property in view of the upcoming letting season".

Boris Johnson with his father Stanley Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Under the rules proposed, people leaving England for a foreign holiday could face a £5,000 fine.

The new regulations for the coming months, covering the PM's “road map” out of lockdown for England, include a ban on leaving the country without a valid reason.

One of the exemptions allows travel to visit properties, estate agents, sales offices or show homes overseas if a person is seeking to buy or sell a foreign home.

The legislation also gives an exemption for “preparing a residential property to move in” or “to visit a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property”.

Brits have been urged to wait before booking holidays overseas with summer. Credit: AP

Labour MP Andrew Gwynne told the Guardian: "For hardworking families facing the prospect of missing out on summer holidays, it will stick in the craw that the government has inserted a ‘Stanley Johnson clause’ to Covid rules that allows people to come and go if they have property abroad.

"It seems it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us."

MPs will vote on the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 on Thursday, with the laws expected to come into force on March 29.