Air bridges 'abandoned' as quarantine-free travel cleared for 75 countries

2 July 2020, 08:43

Plans to allow more foreign travel are expected this week
Plans to allow more foreign travel are expected this week. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The government is set to "abandon" air bridges and as many as 75 countries will be put on a "quarantine-exemption" list for Brits heading abroad, according to reports.

The list, which is set to be published later this week, will lift the ban on non-essential travel to a host of EU destinations and countries including Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.

All 75 on the list have been judged to be sufficiently "low risk" for holidaymakers, with an infection rate that it in decline and state data that can be trusted, the Daily Telegraph reported.

It also means that from Monday, travellers from these countries will no longer need to isolate on their arrival in UK. However, some of the countries may retain border controls for those entering.

Britain already said on Friday that it would ditch a 14-day quarantine period for people arriving from countries such as France, Greece and Spain.

Countries have been placed on "green", "amber" and "red lists" under the government's traffic light system.

People returning from "green" or "amber" countries will no longer need to self-isolate.

Russia, Brazil and the USA are all on the "red list", meaning that non-essential travel is still banned from the UK.

The move is likely to be a welcome relief to the travel industry, who have said previously that "air bridges" are unworkable.

Paul Charles, a spokesman for the Quash Quarantine campaign group of 500 travel and hospitality businesses, said: "We have said all along that air bridges were unsustainable in Europe because you can't restrict people travelling in the EU or Schengen.

"It's sensible and logical and I wish we could have had it earlier. It begs the question as to why have we gone round in circles."

Simon Clarke, a junior housing, communities and local government minister, said the government was working on an announcement on travel.

"We will provide this announcement as soon as it is safe," Clarke told Sky News.

"We will be talking further about this this week." adding "Clearly we want to get the tourism sector back on its feet as quickly as we can and I'm sure that we will be able to give good news in the near future," he said.

The expected announcement was expected to be delivered by the middle of this week, however, it is thought to have been delayed due to objections to "air bridges" by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister.

Ms Sturgeon, who this week reserved the right to quarantine English visitors, said yesterday that if she chose not to allow air bridges then "I will set out why that is the case and the practical problems, challenges and implications that flow from that and how we will try to deal with them."

The Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel.

However, the Foreign Secretary has agreed that travel advice can be eased in countries and territories where the public health risk is no longer ‘unacceptably high’ and therefore advice ‘against non-essential travel’ can be lifted.