Guardian News and Media/London
A host of popular European tourist destinations are on a confirmed list of 59 countries and territories English holidaymakers will be able to visit in so-called “air bridge” arrangements without having to quarantine for a fortnight on their return.
Passengers arriving from France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Greece are among those who will be exempt from rules that require a 14-day period of isolation in England under measures introduced on July 10. The 14 British overseas territories will also be exempt from quarantine requirements, meaning there are 73 countries or territories in total.
The government said the list may be added to in the coming days. Amid accusations that Downing Street’s handling of the measures had been “shambolic” and concerns over the announcement being beset by delays, the department for transport (DfT) yesterday finally unveiled a full list of countries that were part of the “travel corridor” scheme.
In addition, the DfT said Ireland was already exempt from quarantine restrictions as it is part of the common travel area, as are the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
Other locations on the list include Barbados, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.
Under a “traffic light” system, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has indicated the list will be split into “amber” countries – including most major European countries – which have medium risk of coronavirus infections.
Amber-rated countries are likely to have reciprocal arrangements in place meaning English travellers need not quarantine on arrival or return.
English travellers arriving in “green” countries, which have low levels of infection such as New Zealand, may still face quarantine restriction upon arrival but not when they return home to the UK.
Upon publishing the list of countries and territories included on the scheme, the DfT did not provide a breakdown for which countries are in the green or amber categories.
The US, which is grappling with a series of severe Covid-19 outbreaks, is not included on the list, meaning the quarantine exemptions do not apply.
Portugal, China and Thailand are similarly not included.
Publication of the list came as ministers hope to revitalise the UK’s ailing tourism and airline industries that have been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Foreign Office is today changing its advice against all but essential overseas travel, coinciding with the relaxation of lockdown measures across England in which pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will open their doors for the first time in three months.
In controversial rules imposed on June 8, travellers returning to England have been forced to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Shapps had hoped to announce the list of countries on the air bridge scheme earlier this week, but behind-the-scenes negotiations with devolved administrations caused delays.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet signed up to the new plans.
Shapps has pointed the finger at Holyrood over delays in the announcement but yesterday, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, issued a broadside against Downing Street’s approach, accusing its decision-making of being “shambolic”.
Speaking at the Scottish government’s coronavirus briefing, the SNP leader said: “When so much is at stake as it is right now, we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government’s shambolic decision process.”
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