The government will continue its deportation flights during lockdown despite a ban on outbound international travel when new restrictions come in on Thursday, HuffPost UK can reveal.
The prime minister was forced to announce a second national lockdown at a hastily arranged press conference in Downing Street over the weekend after details were leaked to newspapers.
In a strongly-worded statement, a Home Office spokesperson said it will prioritise targeting individuals who “exploit” the immigration system.
“We will continue to remove foreign national offenders who abuse our hospitality and those who have no right to remain in the UK,” the spokesperson said.
“The government is fixing the broken asylum system to make it firm and fair. It will be compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes, but will stop the exploitation of the system through illegally-facilitated crossings and often unfounded and meritless claims to remain.”
Under the new lockdown, members of the public are advised not to travel unless for essential reason. Those who are already on holiday will be able to return to the UK.
People can travel for work, if unable to work remotely, and there are exemptions for overnight stays and second homes for work purposes.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said on Monday there won’t be refunds for November flights.
“If the government wants to change that advice and provide refunds themselves, they can feel free to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile Easyjet has announced that much of the airline’s UK schedule is likely to be cancelled during the lockdown.
Further restrictions will see pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail closed for four weeks; schools, colleges and nurseries will remain open.
People will also be allowed to exercise and socialise in outdoor public spaces with their household or one other person.
On Monday, human rights organisation Liberty wrote to the PM urging the government to take “urgent life-saving steps” to immediately reduce the number of people in immigration detention centres
This would lessen the risk of Covid-19 entering the detention estate and causing avoidable harm, they argue.