Holidays to Spain, France, Germany and Italy from July 10 have officially been given the green light – but only if you’re from England.
People arriving from the four countries will no longer have to quarantine for 14 days, the government announced tonight.
The nations are the first set to be added to a “traffic light” system on Friday – in which countries marked amber or green will have restrictions lifted.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps boasted the change was “good news for British people and great news for British businesses.”
Yet tonight’s announcement is not for the whole of Britain.
Instead, it was mired in chaos after Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could not be persuaded to sign up.
The split means those arriving into the other three nations of the UK must still follow the quarantine rules, at least for now.
And it opens up a bizarre loophole in which people could technically fly in and out of an English airport, then drive across the border.
Mr Shapps said travellers to England from around 60 countries and overseas territories will no longer have to quarantine when they arrive in the UK.
He told Sky News: “There will be a list of 50-plus countries. If you add in the overseas territories (there will be) 60-something-or-other that will be announced later today.
“France, Germany, Italy and Spain will be on that list. It is really important that we have done this in a very careful and cautious way. The most important thing is to maintain the gains that we have had.”
Meanwhile, unprecedented Foreign Office travel advice against “non-essential travel” anywhere in the world will ease on Saturday.
The change in guidance will set out exemptions, allowing people to travel to safer countries without invalidating their insurance.
Passengers arriving from all nations, even amber or green ones, will still have to give their contact information and travel history at the border.
That will allow them to be traced more easily if there’s an outbreak.
It comes almost exactly a month after the UK imposed a 14-day quarantine on almost anyone arriving from any country in the world.
The restrictions prompted outrage from Tory MPs, airlines and the tourist industry who warned they would prompt a wave of layoffs.
But hopes the UK would set up “air bridges” – two-way deals with specific countries to have no quarantine at either end – have so far failed.
Instead the government is setting up a “traffic light” system, with countries given a colour based on their coronavirus risk.
Arrivals to England from red countries will still need to quarantine for 14 days, while those from amber and green countries will have restrictions eased.
Unlike with “air bridges”, the agreement is only one-way.
That means Brits could find themselves forced to quarantine when they arrive at their holiday destination.
Currently Spain, Germany and Italy have no quarantine rules on arriving Brits, and France’s is only voluntary.
The full “traffic light” list of countries is due to be set out on Friday by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
According to The Times, 40 countries will be given green status and a further 33 will be given an amber rating.
It is reported green countries will include most of Western Europe, all British overseas territories, and Turkey, Thailand, Sri Lanka and nations in the Caribbean.
Australia, New Zealand and Greece, which remain closed to British tourists, will be on the “amber” list and the US, Brazil, Russia and Iran will be “red”, the Times reported.
The Department for Transport did not confirm whether the four countries officially announced tonight were green or amber.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The entire nation has worked tirelessly to get to this stage.
“Therefore safety must remain our watch word and we will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with.”
It comes after a day of chaos in which the scheme descended into infighting – with the UK government and Nicola Sturgeon each blaming each other for a hold-up.
Questioned on Thursday, Downing Street could not say when the “traffic light” list would take effect – despite journalists previously being told it was “likely” from Monday 6 July.
No10 also gave no indication that there will be separate “air bridges” for countries popular with Brits.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested the Scottish Government was delaying an announcement on the scheme.
But the Holyrood administration said the claim was “completely unfounded” and accused the UK Government of failing to keep Scottish ministers fully updated on the plans.
First Minister Ms Sturgeon said Mr Shapps had misrepresented the situation “which is disappointing but sadly not surprising”.
Downing Street said in response: “We’ve taken a four nation approach to quarantine and we’ve been working closely with the devolved administrations on the next steps.”