As the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures continue, holidaymakers may be able to travel overseas from early next month, as the Government is expected to suspend the 14-day quarantine period for some countries and set up air bridges.
Since 23 March the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has 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 tourism industry and economy.
The i newsletter cut through the noise
Here’s what we know so far about when air bridges will start and you can book holidays.
What is an air bridge?
Air bridges, also known as “travel corridors” are essentially an agreement between two countries which allows them to scrap the mandatory quarantine when travelling from one to another.
For example, an air bridge between the UK and France would allow anyone in the UK to travel to France without self-isolating for two weeks upon arrival, and vice versa.
In place of the quarantine arrangements is expected to 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.
The Government has said the UK will only consider making air bridges with countries that have a low R rate – the measure of infection rate of coronavirus – which Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said is a “massive priority”.
When will air bridges actually start?
A list of countries people can travel to without quarantining is expected to be published tomorrow, Wednesday 1 July.
The first air bridges to low-risk countries could be in force from as early as 4 July, but Mr Shapps said no announcement will be made until the UK’s quarantine measures are officially reviewed.
Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis has indicated it could be up to three weeks before his country is happy to open up an air bridge to the UK, depending on the advice from health experts.
What countries are ‘low-risk’?
Countries are expected to either be graded green, meaning they are safer than the UK; amber, meaning they are less safe than green countries; or red, which will result in any passengers returning from them still needing to isolate for a fortnight.
“Low-risk” green destinations are expected to include France, Greece, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Croatia, Finland, Belgium, Germany and Norway.
Countries graded as red include Portugal, Sweden and the USA.
According to reports, air bridges will be announced in batches, and Mr 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.