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The quarantine policy for passengers arriving in England from “lower risk countries” will be lifted, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.
Spain, France, Italy and Germany are among those that will be exempt, and a full list of countries from which arrivals will not need to self-isolate for 14 days will be published later on Friday. The new measures come into force from July 10.
All passengers except for those in certain categories will continue to be required to provide contact information on arrival.
Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will exempt a number of countries from its advisory against all non-essential travel, which has been in place since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That change will come into effect on Saturday, allowing people to take holidays overseas with regular travel insurance policies.
The DfT said the devolved administrations “will set out their own approach”, which means passengers arriving in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland “should ensure they follow the laws and guidance which applies there”.
The department indicated that reciprocal arrangements between England and overseas nations have not been confirmed, stating the government’s “expectation” is that a number of exempted countries will also not require arrivals from the UK to self-isolate.
It added the UK “continues to work closely with international partners around the world to discuss arrangements for travellers arriving from the UK”.
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 watch word 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.
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.”
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 (BAR 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.”