The government has announced today, July 3rd, that people arriving in England from more than 60 countries including France, Spain, Germany and Italy will no longer need to quarantine from July 10th.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says that the full list of 60 countries exempted from quarantine will be published by the Department for Transport.
The idea originally proposed of ‘air bridges’ offering open travel to low-risk destinations has been changed to this plan for reducing quarantine regulations.
At the moment most travellers to the UK are required to self-isolate for two weeks, though the quarantine regulations have been widely criticised as unenforceable and ineffective.
Quarantine regulations were introduced in early June to try to prevent cases of coronavirus being brought into the UK at a time when the rate of local transmission was falling. But the quarantine measures were criticised at the time as being ‘too little and too late’.
For countries on the exempted list, travellers will no longer be required to quarantine unless they have been in or travelled through non-exempt countries in the previous 14 days.
The list of exempted countries will be kept under constant review and quarantine conditions may change accordingly.
Foreign Office advice on travel is also changing from Saturday. Up to this point advice has been to avoid all but essential travel.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps originally said that countries would be rated on a ‘traffic light’ system. Those rated green which have very low levels of coronavirus, such as New Zealand, may be travelled to freely, but may require visitors to quarantine. But in fact the traffic light system isn’t mentioned in the published list.
Here is the complete list as published on www.gov.uk:
Travel corridors: countries and territories exemption list
From 10 July 2020, unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from the following countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into England.
Antigua and Barbuda
Serbia (now removed from the exemption list based on new data)
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
St Kitts and Nevis
St Pierre and Miquelon
Trinidad and Tobago
Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are exempt as they are part of the common travel area.
The 14 British Overseas Territories are also exempt.
This list may be added to over the coming days following further discussions between the UK and international partners.
Information for travel into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be published by the Devolved Administrations.
Countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, where the rate of coronavirus infection is comparable to that of the UK, will have “reciprocal arrangements” in place by which travellers from the UK will not be required to quarantine. Portugal is notably not on the list of quarantine exempt countries.
France’s strict lockdown was imposed on 17th March, with residents required to provide a travel permit justifying any outdoor trips.
Restrictions began to ease on 11th May, and on 14th June President Emmanuel Macron declared France had won its “first victory” against the virus as he lifted more measures.
As of 15th June, all of mainland France is now in a “green zone”, where restrictions can ease faster.
Countries on the UK’s ‘red list’ where travel is still inadvisable will include the USA, which currently bans visitors from the UK and the European Schengen area in any case. US citizens returning from those areas, plus China, Iran and Brazil may re-enter the US but are required to quarantine.
Parts of the US are imposing their own quarantine restrictions in response to infections rising in 37 of the 50 states. Chicago will quarantine all arrivals from US states where coronavirus cases are surging for 14 days.
The quarantine will initially affect visitors from California, Florida, Texas and Arizona, and provision has been made to add or remove states as their coronavirus caseloads change.
On Thursday 2nd July, the USA reported more than 55,000 new COVID-19 cases, a global record.
Greece is to conduct a review of its own quarantine policy on July 15th.
Airline trade associations have welcomed the change in policy which has come in time to resume services in time for the summer peak. However it’s widely argued that the quarantine restrictions caused economic harm to the travel industry without making any significant difference to the level of coronavirus infection in the UK.
The announcement of a change to travel quarantine requirements comes at a time when coronavirus restrictions in the UK are about to be eased, with pubs and restaurants due to re-open on Saturday July 4th.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to urge the public to “act responsibly” when England’s bars and restaurants reopen on Saturday, and there have been similar pleas in Northern Ireland where restrictions are eased today, July 3rd.
It has also been announced that staff in care homes in England will receive weekly coronavirus tests from next week, with residents over 65 tested every 28 days.
The regime will also apply to younger patients suffering from dementia, while any home dealing with or at increased risk of an outbreak will be more intensively tested.
In Scotland, the five-mile travel restriction is being lifted, apart from around a cross-border coronavirus cluster in southern Scotland and North West England. Self-catering accommodation has re-opened.
In Wales, people from two separate households will be able to join together as one “extended household” from 6th July. They can meet indoors and stay overnight, in a similar fashion to other “support bubble” arrangements elsewhere in the UK.
This follows the Welsh Government’s announcement on Thursday that restaurants and pubs can open outdoors from 13th July. Venues will be able to open in spaces they own and have licences for so long as coronavirus cases continue to fall.
After the government’s announcement today, July 3rd, that people arriving in England from more than 50 countries including France, Spain, Germany and Italy will no longer need to quarantine from July 10th, the full list of countries included has been published.