Brits will be able to go on holiday in days with the government formally confirming this afternoon that air bridges will replace the 14-day quarantine rules.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the Government will “shortly begin to ease the health measures at the UK border” allowing passengers to be “exempted from self-isolation requirements in certain circumstances on arrival in the UK”.
In a statement to Parliament Mr Shapps said that he would later this week announce a full list of the countries and territories that would be exempt from quarantine.
The rules will apply to anyone coming in via plane, boat or rail.
He tweeted: “My Statement to Parliament on exempting passengers from self-isolation requirements in certain circumstances (i.e. International Travel Corridors or Air Corridors) on arrival in the UK.”
Mr Shapps said: “Although people will not need to self-isolate after entering the UK from these countries, they must not be complacent about following the public health advice on hand hygiene and social distancing.”
“Throughout this process, public safety has been at the heart of our decision making.
“We have been guided by the science and worked closely with health and policy experts from across government to ensure the steps we are taking are gradual and will minimise the risk of new Covid-19 cases while helping to open our travel and tourism sector.”
Mr Shapps’ statement formally confirmed a plan unveiled over the weekend by Downing Street.
A traffic light system will decide which nations are safe to travel to, with those classed as green or amber available to holidaymakers.
Britons holidaying in “green” or “amber” countries will not have to self-isolate for 14 days when they get back.
But people returning from countries in the ‘red’ zone would need to self-isolate.
Experts have studied how rife coronavirus is within countries, whether the UK can trust their Covid-19 figures, and whether their infection rates are falling, climbing or flatlining.
The Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel but this will change this week.
The Foreign Secretary has agreed that travel advice can be eased in countries and territories where the public health risk is no longer ‘unacceptably high’ and therefore advice ‘against non-essential travel’ can be lifted.
Jim McMahon MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary welcomed the news but warned that a ‘full range of coronavirus screening measures’ needed to be put in place alongside air bridges.
He said: “Labour has been clear we needed to replace the blunt 14-day quarantine.
“It was brought in extremely late after millions of passengers had already entered the UK without any such restrictions and the damage and uncertainty created by its introduction without a clear exit strategy was significant and puts further jobs at risk.
“Going forward ‘air bridges’ is the right starting point, provided it can be done safely but it cannot be the only intervention.
“While it is logical that countries with lower infection reproduction rates present less risk, it is a fact that countries do not carry the virus; individuals do.
“It is vital therefore that in the published plan there is a full range of measures which could include pre-screening arrangements before departure, temperature scanning in airports, isolation zones, as well as an effective 48-hour or less test in the UK supported by a robust contact tracing scheme.”