Boris to 'approve travel to 95 countries' but just 12 will have air bridges

The Prime Minister is expected to give the green light for Britons to travel to 95 foreign destinations later today.

But not all of them will have air bridges, as it has emerged only 12 countries are likely to allow tourists from the UK to bypass quarantine rules, MailOnline reports.

Many countries are reportedly wary of allowing tourists from Britain to enter after spikes in coronavirus cases in certain areas – particularly Leicester after it went into local lockdown this week.

The move could put holidays back on the agenda for some and it also signals the end of the UK’s blanket quarantine policy on arrivals to the UK, which has been heavily criticised by many in the industry.

George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of luxury travel company Red Savannah, called the Government’s policy ‘a disaster’.

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He told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme yesterday: ‘The whole of quarantine has been a disaster. It was a lousy piece of secondary legislation. 

‘There was no business or regulatory impact assessment carried out, there was no consultation carried out. And effectively what it did was to prevent the industry after four months of no sales from getting back on its feet again.

‘The Government are very fond of saying that they’ve been following the science, but the scientists aren’t quite as fond as saying they’ve been following the Government.

‘There were numerous scientists…  saying the exact opposite, saying it would have a negligible impact on public health and that it was a very odd time to bring it in.’

Theresa Villiers, the former environment and Northern Ireland secretary, who was transport minister in the coalition, said the quarantine policy ‘hasn’t been worth it’. 

‘This policy has caused damage to the travel industry, and inconvenience for holiday-makers, without any evidence of it working effectively to cut Covid risk,’ she said. 

Having been one of the MPs urging Home Secretary Priti Patel to delay the restrictions when they were introduced a month ago, she added: ‘Air bridges needed to be in place from the start to deliver a risk-based approach which imposed quarantine only on flights from places with high rates of infection.’

Boris Johnson is expected to announce today that UK tourists will be free to travel to the majority of European Union countries, all British overseas territories and a number of other long-haul destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Sri Lanka. 

Quarantine restrictions on arrivals into the UK were imposed on June 8, which put an end to the hope of holidays abroad.

It meant anyone arriving in the UK, including returning citizens, would have to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the country.

But it was announced last week that measures would be relaxed for people returning from ‘safe’ countries from July 6 – called an air bridge.

Also known as a ‘travel corridor’, an air bridge is a way of allowing tourists from two countries to travel between the destinations without needing to quarantine.

The idea is that the air bridges would enable people from areas which have low transmission rates of Covid-19 to travel between countries without having to self-isolate.

The Government has been working on a traffic light system based on coronavirus risks in other countries, and plans on permitting travel to both ‘green’ and ‘amber’ countries.

But a number of countries have reportedly delayed proposed air bridge agreements with the UK following the second lockdown in Leicester.

Greece announced it was extending its ban on flights from the UK until July 15, despite opening to tourists from other countries for the first time since lockdown.

The 12 countries which will form air bridges with the UK have not yet been announced – but other countries are expected to follow Greece and stay closed to British holidaymakers.

TUI’s Managing Director Andrew Flintham told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The conversations with overseas countries, as Greece has demonstrated, is a two-way decision. 

‘So I think there are still going to be a few bumps in the road and I still think there will be some countries that won’t be opening up – which means we’ll have to cancel a few more holidays, but hopefully not as many as we’ve been cancelling.’

The government has been criticised by figures in the travel sector for not revealing the full details of its relaxation of the measures, saying that it is preventing people from booking holidays with confidence.

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