Holidays to Europe and Caribbean by end of month as 'air bridges' are announced this week

 

SAFE “air bridges” to popular European holiday destinations could be announced by the end of the week.

France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Germany and Austria are all expected to introduce travel corridors with quarantine measures relaxed from June 29.

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Air bridges, an agreement between two countries which would allow quarantine-free travel, depend on the the risk of coronavirus in the country.

Gibraltar was on the list but has been deemed “high-risk” with Portugal, which recently had to reimpose lockdown in Lisbon after a series of Covid breakouts.

Portugal could still be on the cards, however, if cases in Lisbon fall, while other locations such as the Algarve continue to see low cases of the virus.

Gibraltar could see the risk lowered as well, if cases begin to drop again.

Officials at No10, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for Transport are drawing up a list of nations to add beyond the first review, with Turkey and Dubai possibles.

Countries are ordered in “high,” “medium,” and “low” risk.

Brits could also be able to fly to the Caribbean soon as the Government looks to prioritise travel to 14 “low-risk” British Overseas Territories, including Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed to Radio 4's Today programme earlier this week that the government is close to introducing travel corridors with certain countries soon.

Mr Hancock said: "That's the plan.

"The quarantine policy is important because there are some countries around the world where this virus is not under control, however, there's other countries where it may be safe to be able to not have a quarantine in place.

"So ahead of the formal review of the quarantine arrangements on the 29th of June, I'm working with Grant Shapps on whether there are countries that have a low rate of infection where we can come to an agreement on a travel corridor."

Currently, Brits have to quarantine when returning to the UK for two weeks, with £1,000 fines for flouting the rules.

All passengers have to fill out an online locator form giving their contact and travel details, as well as the address of where they will isolate.

This is to be reviewed on July 29.

Other countries, such as Spain, Italy Malta, are no longer enforcing 14-day quarantines for British tourists, with holidaymakers returning to Benidorm and Malaga last week.

Countries that do enforce quarantines, such as France, mean British holidaymakers would have to take five weeks of annual leave for a one week holiday – with 14-days either side to quarantine in each country.

Boris Johnson announced the opening of UK “staycations” from July yesterday, with hotels, B&Bs and campsites in England being able to open.

However the travel industry has called on the government to publish a clearer roadmap to get it going again.

Holiday organisation ABTA said: “The travel sector remains in a perilous state, with redundancies announced each week, and more needs to be done to help the whole sector recover.

“We need a more comprehensive roadmap as soon as possible that includes timeframes for relaxing international travel restrictions too so businesses and customers can plan ahead.

“The process of sending people on holiday is not like turning on a tap; as much advance notice as possible from the Government is required for travel companies to restart operations.”

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