England's travel quarantine to be scrapped for arrivals from Spain, France, Italy and Germany

July 02, 2020

People returning to England after trips to Spain, France, Italy and Germany will no longer have to self-isolate from 10 July.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said a number of countries will be exempted from the current requirement for passengers to self-isolate for 14 days, with the full list due to be published on Friday.

The new policy also applies to tourists visiting England from the exempted countries.

The Foreign Office is also updating its advice that warns against "all but essential" international travel, with certain destinations that no longer pose an "unacceptably high risk of COVID-19" to be exempted from Saturday.

The existing quarantine measures have attracted widespread derision since their introduction, with critics suggesting they were brought in too late and applied to some countries where coronavirus was not as rife as in the UK.

British Airways owner IAG described the blanket quarantine measures as "illogical", while budget airline Ryanair labelled them "idiotic rubbish".

Under the new plan, all passengers, except those on a small list of exemptions, will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in the UK.

The DfT said it expects a number of the exempted countries will not require arrivals from the UK to self-isolate.

"This will mean that holidaymakers travelling to and from certain destinations will not need to self-isolate on either leg of their journey," it added.

However the government's announcement did not guarantee reciprocal arrangements with foreign countries.

Spain, Italy and Germany currently allow entry to most Britons without having to undergo quarantine. However, France has a 14-day quarantine for most people entering the country from the UK.

The DfT said the list of exempted countries will be "kept under constant review, so that if the health risks increase self-isolation measures can be re-introduced to help stop the spread of the disease into England".

It added that the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will "set out their own approach to exemptions" and urged passengers returning to those countries to "follow the laws and guidance which applies there".

Transport Secretary Grant 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.

"The entire nation has worked tirelessly to get to this stage, therefore safety must remain our watch word and we will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with."

The government plans to introduce a traffic light system that would classify countries as safe or otherwise, depending on the prevalence of coronavirus.

Countries will either be graded green, meaning they are safer than the UK; amber, meaning they are less safe than green countries; or red, which will result in any passengers returning from them still needing to isolate for a fortnight.

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Rules implemented from 8 June have meant all passengers - with a handful of exemptions - have been required to go into self-isolation for 14 days at a declared address when they arrive in the UK.

Those who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England, with police allowed to use "reasonable force" to make sure they follow the rules.

The Airlines UK trade association welcomed news that the quarantine measures would be lifted for certain countries.

It said: "There's no doubt quarantine has had a devastating impact on our industry and whilst it's welcome the government has removed its blanket ban we would encourage rigour and science is applied in all future decisions surrounding our businesses."

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