UK to remove quarantines from select destinations from 10 July

UK: In a shift from earlier policy, the Department for Transport has announced that people arriving back in England from more than 50 countries, including European destinations such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany, will no longer need to self-isolate in quarantine from 10 July [Friday].

The new exemptions refer to countries which are deemed to post a “reduced risk”, meaning people arriving from those countries will no longer need to self-isolate, unless they have been to or travelled in countries that are not covered by the exemptions over the previous 14 days.

Initial hints of the policy were revealed a fortnight ago, when the government announced it would eliminate the 14-day quarantine for arrivals from France, Germany and Spain. This was part of the government’s air bridge plan, allowing for British and foreign travellers to fly internationally to countries with specific, reciprocal travel arrangements.

Now, however, the government has eliminated the need for these arrangements, allowing quarantine-free travel to the exempted countries. This only applies to UK returns, as the various countries will continue to implement their own border controls and regulations.

The full list of the exempted countries / territories is as follows: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Croatia, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Reunion, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, South Korea, Spain, St Barthelmy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Vatican City and Vietnam.

The UK Government’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said that countries on the list would be labelled as either amber or green, in line with a traffic-light system based on the number of confirmed coronavirus cases:

  • “Green” countries have “very low” levels of coronavirus and will have restrictions for UK arrivals
  • “Amber” countries will have “reciprocal arrangements” in place, meaning travellers from the UK will not have to quarantine on arrival
  • Restrictions will remain in place for “red” countries

Countries such as The United States, Brazil, Portugal, Sweden and Russia, which have all seen similarly high infection rates to the UK or recent spikes, will all be on a red list.

The Department for Transport said that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would “set out their own approach” to exemptions,  as the Welsh and Scottish first ministers, Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon, lambasted the UK government’s “shambolic” handling of its quarantine process.

In the meantime, Portugal’s foreign affairs minister, tweeted that it was “absurd” that Portugal had been left off the new list, despite the fact that the UK having 28 times more deaths related to Covid-19.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa added: “Which is the safest place to stay? You are welcome to spend a safe holiday in Algarve!”

Meanwhile, Glenn Fogel, the chief executive of Booking Holdings, which owns Booking.com and Kayak, spoke to BBC World News and called for a collective effort from governments around the world to set out principles as to why someone can travel from one country to another.

He called the current measures “totally chaotic”, but insisted he welcomed the UK Government’s announcement, as the UK is “an important part of the global tourism industry”.