Air bridges will be announced by end of June, Shapps indicates
By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
Air bridges enabling holidaymakers to travel overseas without entering self-isolation when they return will be announced by the end of June, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated.
He told LBC Radio that the Government is “actively working” on introducing travel corridors amid concerns the quarantine policy is damaging the travel and tourism industry.
Mr Shapps said: “We won’t be in a position to announce which countries – where reciprocal arrangements go in place – until the 29th.
“So don’t expect anything this week, I think I’m right in saying it’s only the end of next week.”
June 29 is the date for the Government’s first review of its controversial quarantine policy, which came into force last week.
Air bridges would enable travellers arriving from countries where the risk of being infected by coronavirus is deemed to be low to avoid going into quarantine.
Most international arrivals into the UK are required to go into self-isolation for 14 days.
All passengers – bar a handful of exemptions – have to fill out an online locator form giving their contact and travel details, as well as the address of where they will isolate.
Mr Shapps said the measure was introduced because “we don’t want to go back to kind of importing (the virus) or Brits going abroad and bringing it back with them”.
A group of more than 500 travel and hospitality businesses campaigning against the policy said last week they had “received private assurances from senior Government sources that travel corridors will be in place from June 29”.
Spain has warned that it may impose its own 14-day quarantine requirement for UK tourists.
Foreign affairs minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the BBC’s Hardtalk programme: “We will be checking what the UK will be doing and we will be in dialogue with the UK to see whether or not we should be introducing reciprocity as they have different measures than the rest of the EU.”
She added: “The health situation … is a little bit better in Spain than it is in the UK.”
This came after Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced over the weekend that tourists from many European nations would be welcome from June 21.
A number of other countries on the continent eased their border restrictions on Monday.
But many have maintained entry restrictions for UK holidaymakers, including:
– France: A 14-day quarantine is in place for UK visitors.
– Greece: Mandatory testing and quarantine for travellers from specific countries such as the UK, the US and Belgium.
– The Netherlands: Tourists from the UK, the EU and Schengen area can visit, but arrivals from the UK and Sweden must go into quarantine.
Destinations without special rules for UK holidaymakers include Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland.
However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against non-essential overseas travel since March 17 and given no indication of when this will be changed.