27/06/2020 12:33 BST | Updated 28/06/2020 10:55 BST

Seven Questions About Air Bridges – And Their Answers

What are they? Which countries could we travel to first? And what about the 14-day quarantine?

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The government has advised British nationals against all but essential travel for more than three months in a bid to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

But on Friday evening, in a bid to kick-start the tourist economy, it was announced that a number of short-haul flights to European countries are expected to resume from July.

So called ‘air bridges’ or ‘travel corridors’ could mean that travellers will soon be able to jet abroad on quarantine-free holidays to a number of destinations. 

But how will the system work? Which countries could we travel to first? And what are airports doing to make travel safer? 

Here are the answers to seven questions about the changes, and what they could mean for your summer break. 

What are air bridges, and how will the system actually work?

Also known as travel corridors, air bridges will allow Britons to go on holiday to certain destinations without needing to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK.

In place of the quarantine arrangements will be a traffic light system, with officials placing countries into green, amber and red categories based on the prevalence of coronavirus within each nation’s borders.

It is expected a quarantine-free list of countries will be published on Wednesday, with restrictions lifted as soon as July 6.

Which countries could be included?

The government is expected to announce next week Britain’s first air bridges with “low-risk” European destinations, including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany.

According to reports, air bridges will be announced in batches, with the second set of destinations likely to include other European countries such as Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands, and “low-risk” Caribbean islands.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said air bridges would only be agreed with countries which have a coronavirus test and trace system of the same standard as that used in Britain.

When will air bridges be introduced?

The first air bridges to low-risk countries could be in force from July 4, but Shapps said no announcement will be made until June 29, when the quarantine measures will be officially reviewed.

Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis has indicated it could be up to three weeks before his country is happy to open up an air bridge to the UK, depending on the advice they get from health experts.

Which countries are less likely to be included?

There were mixed reports over whether Portugal would be included in the UK’s plans next week, after a spike in coronavirus cases in the country.

Long-haul flights to destinations such as Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong are reportedly not expected before late summer.

Flights to Australia are thought to be more complicated, due to the need to stop over in other countries, which increases the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus.

What about the 14-day quarantine?

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.

What safety measures have airports introduced?

Last month, Heathrow Airport began trials of thermal screening technology to detect elevated temperatures of arriving passengers.

Edinburgh Airport has implemented a colour-coded one-way system to maintain social distancing, while protective screens have been installed at check-in, security and arrivals, and staff wear face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE) in “passenger-facing areas”.

At Gatwick Airport, hand sanitiser stations, protective screens, regular deep cleaning and social distancing instructions have been introduced throughout the site, with face mask vending machines selling four masks for £3.

Pre-booked airport security slots are being tested at Manchester Airport, in which passengers can reserve a free 15-minute window to use a dedicated lane taking them directly to a checkpoint.

What about the flight itself?

It looks as though in-flight food and drinks will not be available, or at least be limited, for a while.

EasyJet said it will not have a bistro or boutique service on board, but will have drinking water available for those who request it.

The airline said it hopes to have a limited bistro service operating again “in the near future”.

Aer Lingus said it has suspended in-flight services on its short-haul trips and will have a reduced service on its transatlantic routes.