Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.
People will be able to travel abroad for holidays this summer without quarantining on their return as long as they visit countries deemed as “low risk” in the coronavirus pandemic, the government has announced.
France, Greece and Spain are among the nations earmarked for so-called “air bridges” or “travel corridors”, which will allow travellers to visit countries abroad without having to enter 14-day isolation on their return to the UK.
The government is likely to discuss the arrangements with those three countries and others in the coming days with the aim of kickstarting travel abroad by July 6.
It brings the blanket quarantine plan, which was criticised by Tory MPs and business groups, to an end after three weeks of operation, following its first review.
Countries have been risk assessed by the government’s joint biosecurity centre and Public Health England (PHE) and classified as green, amber or red, informed by the prevalence of coronavirus in the country, confidence in the country’s data and the trajectory of Covid-19 infections.
Low risk countries in the green and amber categories will be exempt from quarantine measures at the border.
But all travellers returning to the UK will still need to complete a passenger locator form to enter the country.
Passengers will also be required by law to wear face coverings on planes and ferries to protect others, despite airports, ports and Eurotunnel introducing “Covid-secure” measures.
The government will also constantly monitor the situation in different countries and “will not hesitate to put on the brakes” if risks re-emerge in the UK or nations deemed low risk.
A “handbrake mechanism” will be put in place so if an outbreak occurs in a country, or even in a particular part of the country, or if officials have concerns about the increasing number of cases in that country, quarantine requirements will be reintroduced.
A government spokesperson said: “Our public health measures at the border were put in place to manage the risk of imported cases and help prevent a second wave of the virus, and will continue to support our fight against coronavirus.
“Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world - giving people the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad and boosting the UK economy through tourism and business.
“But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge, and this system will enable us to take swift action to re-introduce self-isolation measures if new outbreaks occur overseas.”
Foreign Office travel advice will also be eased in countries where the public health risk is no longer “unacceptably high” and therefore advice “against non-essential travel” can be lifted.
Travel advice decisions are separate from decisions on international travel corridors.