The US and Greece are excluded from a list of around 60 countries and overseas territories that English holidaymakers can visit without needing to self-isolate on their return, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has revealed.
Quarantine restrictions for people returning to or visiting England from destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Germany will be lifted from July 10.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it was “disappointing” that the UK Government announced its plan “before a four nations agreement has been reached”.
I'll be publishing a list of 'Air Bridge' countries today in time for summer holidays – removing the need to quarantine for 14 days from specific destinations where the virus is under control and arrangements are in place.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) July 3, 2020
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will exempt a number of countries from its advisory against all non-essential travel from Saturday.
Around 60 countries and overseas territories are on the Government’s initial list for lifting quarantine restrictions, which will be published later on Friday, Mr Shapps told Sky News.
This includes New Zealand, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar.
In a later interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said the US is not included as “they have got very high numbers of infections”, while Greece does not feature as it has banned flights from the UK until July 15.
The Scottish Government said the UK Government’s list consists of countries “which present differing levels of risk”.
The Department for Transport said risk assessments were conducted by the Joint Biosecurity Centre in consultation with Public Health England and the chief medical officer, considering each country’s prevalence of coronavirus, the number of new cases and the potential trajectory of the disease.
Approved destinations pose “a reduced risk to the public health of UK citizens” but the list will be kept “under constant review”, the DfT said.
Ministers failed to guarantee reciprocal arrangements with all the included destinations, meaning some – such as New Zealand – will continue to order English holidaymakers to go into quarantine at the beginning of their trip.
The requirement for everyone arriving into the UK – bar a handful of exemptions – to self-isolate for 14 days was introduced on June 8.
It was met with fierce criticism over the impact on the UK’s travel, tourism and hospitality industries.
Passengers will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in England.
Anyone self-isolating because they have arrived or return before July 10 will be able to stop from that date.
Mr Shapps said: “Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation.
“Whether you are a holidaymaker ready to travel abroad or a business eager to open your doors again, this is good news for British people and great news for British businesses.
“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.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency and member of the Quash Quarantine campaign group, said: “There are still several obstacles to be overcome, namely ensuring Scotland support the planned changes.
“But this is a welcome boost for the travel industry at such a critical time.”
A spokesman for trade association Airlines UK said: “There’s no doubt quarantine has had a devastating impact on our industry and whilst it’s welcome the Government has removed its blanket ban, we would encourage rigour and science is applied in all future decisions surrounding our businesses.”