France, Italy, Germany and Spain along with another 57 countries will be exempt from quarantine for arrivals into England. These countries have been deemed safe to travel to and have been given the green light under the new traffic light system.
The new rules were due to be in place on July 6 but have been pushed back to July 10 and many countries on the list are expected to have a reciprocal agreement in place.
Although self-isolation will no longer be necessary, contact details will still be collected at the airport.
This sounds like good news but there are some things to be aware of:
- Not all countries will have a reciprocal agreement. For instance, New Zealand and Greece have the green light, but both have bans on Brits entering at this time. Greece intends to lift its ban on Brits on July 15. Nevertheless, visitors from both will be welcome to visit England.
- This only applies to arrivals in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not on board with this measure and have expressed surprise that the measure has been announced without their approval. Transport secretary Grant Shapps said of the devolved administrations “they have their own governments and it is for them to decide”. However, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, says that they will take time to consider and may fall into line in time.
- Quarantine could be reintroduced: If a spike in COVID-19 appears in any of green light countries, the red light protocol will be invoked and quarantine for arrivals will be put back in place. Mr Shapps warned that quarantine could be reintroduced if a spike in coronavirus cases occurs in one of the destination countries. He said: “We will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with.”
- You will have to self-isolate if you have transited through a non-exempt country. The government statement said: “People arriving from selected destinations will be able to enter England without needing to self-isolate unless they have been in or transited through non-exempt countries in the preceding 14 days.”
- The rules DO NOT apply to the USA where the virus is still not under control.
The Foreign Office (FCO) will lift its no-go warning on Saturday Juy 4 – the FCO advice against non-essential travel anywhere overseas has been in place since March 17. Since June 8, all travellers arriving in the UK, including returning holidaymakers, have had to self-isolate for two weeks.
A government statement said:
“The FCO will set out exemptions for a number of destinations from its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ international travel, with changes coming into effect on 4 July.”
The change will mean that standard travel insurance policies are valid for the selected countries.
Mr Shapps said:
“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.”
Some industry leaders remain critical of the government. Noel Josephides, director on industry issues for AITO and Sunvil chairman, says the quarantine decision has come too late for travel businesses. He said:
“The announcement has come too late. The Government prevaricated and promised it last week, then Monday, and then Thursday, and then said it would start from Monday, and now it’s Friday. That one week makes such a difference and will have meant the loss of thousands of bookings.”
In advance of this announcement airlines including Easyjet, Ryanair and BA have already ramped up their schedule making thousands of flights available every day to mainly short-haul destinations.