UK Air Bridge: The destinations set for travel quarantine exemptions when the 14-day rules end
Up to 95 countries could be included in a new scheme which will effectively scrap the UK’s 14 day quarantine for travellers
Since Monday 8 June anyone entering the UK from overseas – with the exceptions of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man – has had to go into an enforced 14 day quarantine.
This mandatory rule has been unpopular with airline companies, and also with those hoping to escape on a summer holiday.
However, they have been given hope in the form of “ Air Bridges” which could allow people to travel freely between the UK and other specified countries.
What is an air bridge?
Air bridges, also known as “travel corridors” are an agreement between two countries which allows them to scrap the mandatory quarantine when travelling from one to another.
For example, an air bridge between the UK and France would allow anyone in the UK to travel to France without self-isolating in quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, and vice versa.
The Government has said the UK will only consider making air bridges with countries that have a low R rate – the measure of infection rate of Coronavirus and are not seeing a sustained increase in infections.
Which countries will be exempt from quarantine?
Around 60 countries are set to be made exempt from quarantine, a dramatic shift in policy from earlier plans, which suggested the list would be far more limited.
Spain, France, Italy and Germany are all on the list, which will be published in full on Friday 3 July.
Most countries in the EU are expected to be included, as well as long-haul destinations like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
However, it is thought that the likes of the USA, Russia and Brazil will remain on the “red” list – which means there will still be a ban on travel to these destinations.
Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said : “There will be a list of 50-plus countries. If you add in the overseas territories, 60-something-or-other that will be announced later today.
“France, Germany, Italy and Spain will be on that list. It is really important that we have done this in a very careful and cautious way. The most important thing is to maintain the gains that we have had.
The list was drawn up using a red amber green “traffic light” system, with air bridges granted to countries in the “green” and “amber” sections.
The system was devised by scientists, and is based on how countries are managing the Covid-19 pandemic.
The list currently only applies to holidaymakers in England, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’s devolved administrations to set out their own approach.
When can I go on holiday?
The quarantine exemptions will come into force from Friday 10 July.
For the vast majority of countries you will not have to go into quarantine on either end of the journey, as the agreements are reciprocal.
Mr Schapps explained: “The countries on the [overall] list mean that when you arrive there you won’t have restrictions unless they are on the green list, those are the countries with very low incidents. We thought it was right to include them.
“I take New Zealand as a good example, they do have restrictions when you arrive, but we thought it was right to include them because people may want to come here from New Zealand and that’s no particular threat to our hard-won gains.
“But on the middle countries, those ones are places where we have reciprocal arrangements in place that if you go there or if you come here, the arrangements are the same both ways round. In other words, you do not have to quarantine.”
‘The Government is effectively abandoning travel corridors’
Paul Charles, spokesman for the Quash Quarantine group of travel companies, said: “It’s to be welcomed that the Government is effectively abandoning travel corridors and blanket quarantine measures, and enabling travel again to such a wide group of countries.
“When confirmed, we will get certainty again in our sector which is badly needed. Each day that goes by without confirmation means fewer bookings and more job losses.
“It’s time the government levelled with the British people on its travel policy, instead of going round and round in circles before making any decision.”