Britain will ditch a 14-day quarantine period for people arriving from countries it deems to be lower risk for COVID-19 , the government said on Friday.
Ministers are poised to clear the way for trips to France, Greece and Spain after confirming the quarantine measures would be changed at Monday’s review, according to Sky News.
Official travel advice against all but essential travel outside Britain will also be eased for some countries and regions.
Taken together, these changes will make it easier for Britons to travel abroad for summer holidays.
The relaxations are the latest taken by the government to unwind emergency measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, as ministers look to limit the economic damage caused by the virus.
An expert panel will put nations into three categories: green, amber and red. Passengers arriving from green and amber countries will no longer have to quarantine themselves for 14 days after their arrival.
“Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world,” a government spokeswoman said. “But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge.”
The rules for red-category countries will not change.
The quarantine policy, introduced on June 8, has been heavily criticised by airlines, airports and the hospitality sector who say it deters international travel at a time when they had been hoping for it to recover.
The categories are due to be announced next week, with the rule changes expected to come into effect the week after. They will be based on factors including prevalence of COVID-19, the trajectory of the disease and the reliability of data.
Britain said it is likely to discuss this with countries including France, Greece and Spain.
The Foreign Office will next week announce those countries where it considers the public health risk is no longer unacceptably high.
What is an air bridge?
Air bridges, also called travel corridors, is a way to allow tourists from two countries to travel between destinations without needing to quarantine on arrival or return.
It is a reciprocal arrangement that would allow UK holidaymakers to visit France without restrictions and vice versa.
The Telegraph reports that the first air bridges group is expected to include:
The second group is expected to include:
- La Reunion
Later, the group is to include Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong
It is said the government is hoping to open bridges to “low risk” British Overseas Territories, including:
- The Falkland Islands
It is also said that long-haul travel to Australia is being discussed, although the challenges around stop-offs will have to be addressed before that air bridge is agreed. Other British Overseas Territories not mentioned include Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos.
Some countries are not on the list, due to high or rising infection rates. Two stand-out omissions are:
Reuters / Sky News / Telegraph