Boris Johnson pressured to extend air bridges to all EU countries
Boris Johnson was under pressure to open air bridges to all European countries at once yesterday, it has been reported.
It comes as the Prime Minister is expected to announce the first batch of countries to which Brits will be able to travel without needing to quarantine for 14 days on arrival back to the UK.
Currently, most travellers arriving in the UK must quarantine for 14 days under strict measures introduced this month.
Passengers must fill out a form giving an address where they will stay and can face fines if they are caught flouting the rules.
The new policy has caused chaos in the travel industry which is struggling to restart after the coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Johnson is expected to announce the first air bridges today – including some of the most popular European destinations, including Italy, France and Spain.
The list of up to 50 nations and the full coronavirus criteria used by Public Health England to determine those for the first wave of air bridges opening from July 4 is due to be published on Monday, The Telegraph reports.
Since March 23, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised British nationals against all but essential international travel.
Now, a number of short-haul flights to European countries are expected to resume from next month in a bid to kick-start the tourist economy.
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.
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 Holland 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.
The first air bridges to low-risk countries could be in force from July 4, but Mr Shapps said no announcement will be made until June 29 when the quarantine measures will be officially reviewed.
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.
Since June 8, all passengers – except 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.
Last month, Heathrow Airport began trialling 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 trialled at Manchester Airport, in which passengers can reserve a free 15-minute window to use a dedicated lane taking them directly to a checkpoint.