James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Air Bridges could be announced within days leading to quarantine free holidays
25 June 2020, 06:46
Brits could be set to bask in the sun this summer without having to worry about quarantine on their return thanks to the introduction of air bridges, it has been reported.
The Government will finalise agreements in coming days to allow people to travel from the UK to a small number of nations including Spain, France and Greece, according to reports by several newspapers.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said yesterday that quarantine-free “air bridges” would be announced to countries that have a coronavirus test and trace system comparable to Britain’s.
Mr Shapps told the Commons Transport Select Committee there would be an announcement about air bridges on Monday, but the Telegraph reported the unveiling would take place at the weekend.
The newspaper reported the first set of bridges are expected to be with popular holiday destinations including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany, largely to "re-fire" the Mediterranean tourist industry from July 4, according to sources.
Asked what "key considerations" formed the negotiations, Mr Shapps said the ability of a country to alert people if they have been in contact with a person who has coronavirus is one of the factors.
Outlining the questions being asked by UK officials, he said: "Do they have something equivalent to our NHS Test and Trace system? The Test and Trace system is enormous here now. We've got the capacity to test far more than is immediately required but that would allow for any uplift anywhere.
"Does the country we're talking to have that kind of capability?"
He said another issue being considered is the level and trajectory of the disease in a destination.
Mr Shapps added that introducing air bridges is a "massive priority", saying: "I understand entirely the pain that aviation is going through. I know both for airports, for airlines and actually for ground handlers as well, this coronavirus has been a complete disaster."
There were mixed reports on Thursday over whether Portugal would be included in the UK's plans after a spike in coronavirus cases in the country.
Since June 8, all passengers - bar a handful of exemptions - have been required to go into self-isolation for 14 days when they arrive in the UK.
People who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England, and police are allowed to use "reasonable force" to make sure they follow the rules.