As the UK awaits news on travel corridors and air bridges, government sources have told British media that the entire plan could be ditched. Revealed this morning in various outlets, the new plan could see quarantine scrapped to as many as 75 different countries, mostly in Europe but also including Thailand, Australia and Turkey.
Quarantine scrapped from Monday
The UK’s controversial quarantine on arrivals is set to be scrapped from next Monday, July 6th. The blanket restriction on international arrivals will be lifted, less than a month after it was implemented. British citizens will now be allowed to travel to 75 countries without having to quarantine on their return, and foreign visitors will be allowed unrestricted access to the country.
The government was expected to announce ‘air bridges’ this week, also known as ‘travel corridors. These would have formed agreements with a number of EU countries to allow quarantine free travel. The list of countries was expected to include Greece, Spain and France, as well as up to 10 more nations, mostly within the EU.
But, after last night’s planned announcement was pushed back until ‘later in the week’, the Telegraph now reports that government sources have indicated the quarantine plan will be ditched to as many as 75 different countries. The BBC has further supported this view, calling it a ‘U-turn’ by the UK government.
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The list of acceptable countries will be officially published later today or tomorrow. However, the Telegraph reports that the list will likely include almost all European destinations, British territories of Gibraltar and Bermuda, as well as Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
Traffic lights still in place
The report suggests that the previously mooted ‘traffic light’ system will remain in place for all countries. Any country rated ‘green’ for low-risk or ‘amber’ for medium-risk will not require quarantine in the UK on the traveler’s return. Countries on the ‘red’ list, which is predicted to include Russia, the US and Brazil, will still be banned for non-essential travel and will still require quarantine for incoming visitors and returning Brits.
Other countries predicted to be on the ‘red’ list include Portugal, which has recently experienced a spike in COVID-19 in and around Lisbon. Sweden, which has a rate of 60 cases per 100,000 of the population, is also likely to be excluded.
However, whatever rules the UK puts in place will be dependent on the other nation accepting British visitors. Currently, Greece, which is expected to be on the ‘green’ list, has suspended flights from the UK until July 15th, due to the exceptional rate of COVID-19 in Britain.
Australia and New Zealand, despite being on the UK’s planned ‘green’ list, have already mooted a ban on international travelers until the end of the year. Other European nations, including Ireland and Finland, are expected to require a rate of infection lower than eight per 100,000 population for quarantine free travel. The UK’s current rate is assessed to be around 8.5.
What does this mean for airlines?
While any relaxation of the travel ban will be welcomed, the UK government’s approach has been confusing to the industry. Low-cost airlines including easyJet and Ryanair have been attempting to ramp up services from the country, but were forced to suspend some flights after Greece extended its ban on UK arrivals.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency and member of the Quash Quarantine campaign group, told Simple Flying,
“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.”
Are you pleased that the quarantine could finally be reversed? Let us know in the comments.