Travel news: 60 countries exempt from UK quarantine to be announced today

The Government will today reveal a list of up to 60 countries exempt from a UK quarantine, effectively giving the go-ahead for holidays this summer.

The list, expected to be revealed as a ‘traffic light system‘, will also coincide with the loosening of the Foreign Office advice, which has warned against all but essential travel since mid-March. 

Spain, Italy, France and Germany are expected to appear on the list, which will be released at lunchtime.

The announcement will mean English holidaymakers returning to the UK from 60 countries will not need to self-isolate for 14 days. The devolved nations are due to set out their own rules at a later date.

The rule change will come into effect from Friday July 10 – not July 6, as previously suggested – with the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps describing it as a major step in “reopening the nation”. The Government had originally hoped for a UK-wide approach, but the England-only exemptions come after days of disagreements with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

“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,” Grant Shapps said.

“The entire nation has worked tirelessly to get to this stage, therefore safety must remain our watchword and we will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with.”

The news will be welcomed by the travel and tourism industry, as well as English holidaymakers keen to get away this summer, although some have vented frustration at the way the Government has communicated its plans in recent weeks.

One focus of criticism is that quarantine exemption is not the same as ‘air bridges’ that have been mentioned in recent weeks. Air bridges, or bilateral travel agreements, would have ensured no quarantine on arrival. However, some destinations expected to be given the green light today – including New Zealand and Australia – could continue to quarantine UK arrivals for as long as the rest of 2020. Many of the destinations expected to appear on the list, like Spain, are not quarantining UK arrivals.

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