The government is considering the introduction of regionalised travel corridors for islands instead of the current blanket quarantine requirement for entire countries.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said there was a “case” for the regionalisation of travel corridors during a series of media interviews on Friday (21 August) – giving fresh hopes to key holiday destinations such as the Balearic and Canary islands.
“I think there is a case for regionalisation – there’s a place for that. I think it’s much harder to do within a country,” Shapps told BBC Breakfast.
“Where there are islands, I think that’s something we will and are looking at. But then you get down to how good is the detail and level of information you’ve got on individual islands which might be part of another country with a landmass somewhere else.
“We are looking at how you can do regionalisation effectively.”
Shapps added that the government was continuing to look at potential Covid-19 testing on arrival in UK airports as an alternative to the 14-day quarantine for those destinations without a travel corridor but stressed it was “not straightforward”.
“There’s not the option of a simple test on arrival and then you’re free to go,” he said.
Shapps said that an on-arrival airport test would only catch a “small number” of people who were infected with Covid-19 but were showing no symptoms.
This meant that people would need to be retested seven or eight days later to be sure they were not carrying the coronavirus - they would still have to self-isolate from their arrival in the UK until they received the results of the second test (a period of up to nine or 10 days).
Shapps stressed they were still reviewing airport testing and he had been talking to Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye this week.
The transport secretary also insisted that passenger locator forms, which all holidaymakers returning to the UK are required to fill out, were being checked by the Border Force.
Responding to a question from Sunvil boss Chris Wright about the forms not being checked at UK airports, Shapps said: “It’s not the case that nobody’s checking.”
Shapps insisted that anybody not filling out the form could face getting a criminal record.
He added that people had been fined for not filling out the form but declined to give any numbers. He said the Border Force would be publishing these figures at a later date.
“The key thing for people to realise is that you can end up with a criminal record if you’re not dong the right thing,” stressed Shapps.