Details of air bridges and travel corridors will be announced “on or by” 29 June, transport secretary Grant Shapps has said.
The industry is eagerly awaiting details of quarantine-free travel arrangements and Shapps has given another hint they may be made available to the industry earlier than next Monday.
He told parliament’s transport committee he was deep in negotiations.
“We want to make sure we are not re-infected either by Brits going abroad and coming back or people coming from those areas. The quarantine is serving that purpose, but we’re also aware there are areas where the virus is more under control and we are having conversations and I will be saying more about that on or by the 29th.”
He declined to say how many or which countries the government was in discussion with. “There will be an announcement, on time, by the 29th, he added.
He said countries would be chosen “on scientifically-based” criteria. Requirements for travel corridors were “not only the level of disease, but also the trajectory” – whether countries were seeing any upticks despite actual numbers declining.
“The other thing is, do they have something equivalent to our NHS Track and Trace?
“Do they have the testing capability – we have the capacity to test 200,000 people per day; more actually, I think now.
“Then, what are their social distancing rules; do they have measures in place as strict as ours?
“You can see why there are a lot of complexities, I don’t want to be evasive on it, but I don’t want to give people false hope.”
Shapps was speaking on the day ground handler Swissport announced up to 4,500 redundancies. Asked about the impact of quarantine on aviation and related industries, he said:
“I understand entirely the pain aviation is going through.” He said quarantine was introduced to stop further spreading of the virus “at the point where we were getting on top of it”.
Shapps added aviation was a “massive priority” and said as a last resort the industry was able to go to the Treasury and seek “bespoke” arrangements.