England to scrap travel quarantine for arrivals from 'low risk' countries

3 July 2020, 00:00

People arriving from "low risk" countries will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days
People arriving from "low risk" countries will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

People arriving in England from "low risk" countries such as Spain, France, Italy and Germany will no longer have to quarantine from 10 July.

Later on Friday, the Department for Transport (DfT) will publish a full list of countries from which arrivals will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

England's new measure will be introduced in a week's time and will include France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

It comes after reports emerged the Government would be "abandoning" air bridges and as many as 75 countries will be put on a "quarantine-exemption" list for Brits heading abroad.

However, all passengers will still be required to provide contact information upon arrival, unless they are in a certain category.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also list a number of destinations which will be exempt from its policy of advising against all non-essential overseas travel.

On Friday morning Grant Shapps has said travellers to England from around 60 countries and overseas territories will no longer have to quarantine when they arrive in the UK.

The Transport Secretary said the Government will be publishing a full list of countries that will be exempt later on Friday.

"There will be a list of 50-plus countries. If you add in the overseas territories (there will be) 60-something-or-other that will be announced later today," he told Sky News.

"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."

Once mapped out, that guidance will come into effect on Saturday, which will free people up to go on holiday overseas with regular travel insurance policies.

However, the administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland "will set out their own approach", according to a DfT statement.

Therefore, passengers arriving in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland "should ensure they follow the laws and guidance which applies there."

Reciprocal arrangements between England and overseas nations have not yet been confirmed, but the DfT says the Government "expects" some of those included on its list will return the favour and not ask UK arrivals to quarantine upon entry.

It added that the UK "continues to work closely with international partners around the world to discuss arrangements for travellers arriving from the UK".

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The possibility of Spanish holidays has become greater following the announcement
The possibility of Spanish holidays has become greater following the announcement. Picture: PA

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation.

"Whether you are a holidaymaker ready to travel abroad or a business eager to open your doors again, this is good news for British people and great news for British businesses.

"The entire nation has worked tirelessly to get to this stage, therefore safety must remain our watchword and we will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with."

The DfT said a risk assessment has been conducted by the Joint Biosecurity Centre in consultation with Public Health England and the chief medical officer.

This considered factors for destinations including the prevalence of coronavirus, the number of new cases and the potential trajectory of the disease.

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Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency and member of the Quash Quarantine campaign group, said: "There are still several obstacles to be overcome, namely ensuring Scotland support the planned changes, but this is a welcome boost for the travel industry at such a critical time.

"The traffic light system will bring clarity to holidaymakers and businesses wanting to travel overseas as well as to travel firms desperate for visibility on what they can offer for this summer and beyond.

"It is remarkably good news that the blanket quarantine restrictions are being lifted from 10th July, and that the changed FCO travel advice will mean we can plan to go away from tomorrow."

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Italy will be on the list of countries from which arrivals will not need to quarantine in England
Italy will be on the list of countries from which arrivals will not need to quarantine in England. Picture: PA

A spokesman for trade association Airlines UK said: "It's a very welcome announcement and we're pleased UK airlines will be able to re-start services to many key markets in time for peak summer travel.

"This gives a clear path to opening further predominantly long-haul destinations in the weeks ahead, and we look forward to working with ministers on measures to mitigate the risk from red countries such as via voluntary testing.

"There's no doubt quarantine has had a devastating impact on our industry and whilst it's welcome the Government has removed its blanket ban we would encourage rigour and science is applied in all future decisions surrounding our businesses.

"Aviation is vital to our economy and the huge increase in bookings over the past few days proves our customers are keen to get travelling again."

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, said: "The list of exempted countries is what everyone is eagerly waiting for and what we need is clear and concise requirements following a period of short notice interventions that were often drip-fed through to the industry and public."