UK: “air bridges” with a number of “core” European countries may be created

Ministers are discussing a possibility to create “air bridges” with a number of “core” European countries including Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Turkey and Croatia so that holidaymakers could travel abroad this summer without having to quarantine on their return.

It means that the countries sharing an air bridge must have a small enough rate of Covid-19 infection to allow Britons to travel out and home without obligation to pass 14 days in self-isolation on the return.

A source close to the government specified the list was fluid and dependent on a rate of cases per 100,000 population, but reports that up to 12 countries – including Australia – could have travel corridors with the UK were played down. Instead, a “core of Mediterranean destinations” as well as some in central Europe are under discussion.

“[Air bridges are] subject to intense scrutiny and it is a priority matter for the government, there’s no doubt about that,” the source added.

The European commission has warned it may be regarded as discriminatory to create such travel corridors between certain EU countries; all those having a similar infection rate should be treated in the same manner.

Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Turkey and Croatia are firmly being considered by ministers, with longer-haul destinations such as Australia considered trickier to include because of the need to change flights in countries were infection levels may be higher. Singapore and Bemuda have also been mooted but government sources have stressed the focus should be on Europe. The US is not being considered at this stage.

A review of the government’s blanket 14-day quarantine scheme for people coming into the UK must take place by 29 June. Currently all details are on the final stage.

Dozens of MPs, including the former prime minister Theresa May, have criticised the quarantine rule for in effect shutting off the UK from international travel.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, backs the air bridge concept up. He stated at the daily Downing Street press conference: “We would look at if we could open up air bridges, which might be better described as travel corridors, and that’s something that we’re actively working on.”

According to the shadow transport secretary, Jim McMahon, the 14-day quarantine rule should be reviewed.

source: The Guardian

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