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UK ministers set to announce quarantine changes

By Pa and Chronicle staff

Ministers in the UK have confirmed the the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the UK will be scrapped for a slew of popular destinations.

Trips to France, Greece and Spain look on the cards after the UK Government confirmed it will revise the quarantine measures at Monday’s review.

Although details of the list of air corridors have yet to be confirmed, Gibraltar - which yesterday reported 10 consecutive days without cases - is likely to be included in the list of destinations despite reports earlier this week suggesting otherwise.

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.

Only passengers arriving into the UK from nations in the red category, where the spread of coronavirus is deemed to be high, will be told to self-isolate for two weeks.

Travellers will, however, still have to hand over the address they plan to reside at on their return, no matter which country they are coming back from.

As well as allowing holidays abroad to take place this summer, the UK Government said the changes would provide a “vital lifeline for UK travel operators and those whose jobs rely on the travel industry”.

A UK Government spokeswoman 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 reintroduce self-isolation measures if new outbreaks occur overseas.”

The quarantine measures have come in for heavy criticism since they were brought in this month.

Since June 8, all passengers – bar a handful of exemptions – have been required to go into self-isolation for 14 days at a declared address 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.

The International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) branded the blanket quarantine measures “illogical” and budget airline Ryanair labelled them “idiotic rubbish”.

But, with Home Secretary Priti Patel promising to review the restrictions every three weeks, the UK Government has signalled that the quarantine will be lifted for a host of destinations in time for the holiday season.

A full list of the low risk countries in the green and amber categories, where people will be able to enter the UK from without being required to self-isolate, is due to be published next week.

It is expected that restriction-free travel will be able to resume with those countries possibly as soon as July 6, with European countries France, Spain and Greece first in line, Government sources told PA.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre, working with Public Health England, has been responsible for categorising the countries it believes would be safe for people to enter the UK from without needing to self-isolate.

But easing the post-travel rules will come with tighter measures for mask-wearing.

Government sources told PA all passengers will be required by law to wear face coverings on planes and ferries to protect others.

The Foreign Office is also set to change its travel advice warning against all but essential travel, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab agreeing to lift the warning for countries and territories where the public health risk is no longer “unacceptably high”, according to a spokesman for the Cabinet minister.

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