Government set to announce list of ‘air bridge’ countries within weeks

17 June 2020, 12:04 | Updated: 17 June 2020, 12:10

Ministers are looking at a list of countries that will be accessible via air bridges
Ministers are looking at a list of countries that will be accessible via air bridges. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today said that the government is close to announcing a list of countries with so-called ‘air bridges,’ paving the way for summer holidays to resume if Brits choose to fly abroad.

The plans mean there would be no need for travellers to quarantine on arrival back in the UK. Mr Hancock said a list of these countries would be published before the quarantine is reviewed on June 29. It could mean quarantine-free holidays to Spain, Greece and Portugal may be allowed to resume by the end of the month.

Mr Hancock said this morning: “"The quarantine policy is important because there are some countries around the world where this virus is not under control, however, there's other countries where it may be safe to be able to not have a quarantine in place.

Matt Hancock said the government was looking at air bridges plans and an announcement would be made before June 29
Matt Hancock said the government was looking at air bridges plans and an announcement would be made before June 29. Picture: LBC News

"So ahead of the formal review of the quarantine arrangements on the 29th of June, I'm working with Grant Shapps on whether there are countries that have a low rate of infection where we can come to an agreement on a travel corridor."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Brazil was one country which the UK was worried about new cases of coronavirus arriving from.

Asked at least five times on Sky News what countries meant the quarantine on arrivals was necessary, he said air bridges were still being considered but would not state any other nations other than Brazil.

"It's really sad to see some of the countries like, for instance, Brazil, where the numbers are really shooting up, so we do have to have this measure in place," he said.

"I mentioned Brazil, there are others we are worried about.

"I'm not going to go into which countries."

Mr Hancock also said that the 2.2 million people in England who are currently shielding will be given more freedoms shortly.

Matt Hancock said an announcement on shielding will be made "very soon" following reports that it is to be axed at the end of July.

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Those who are shielding are currently told they can leave home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.

They should only go out with members of their own household, although those who live alone can spend time outdoors with one person from another household, ideally the same person each time.

Responding to reports that shielding would be lifted at the end of July, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: "I want to say to your viewers, if you are in the shielded category we will announce very soon what the plans are and we will write to you personally through the NHS so that you can get the direct clinical advice."

He said those who have been shielding indoors have "sacrificed an awful lot" but added: "We want to do this properly based on the clinical advice."

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