Government plans to ease England’s quarantine measures and soften the Foreign Office’s no travel advisory have been warmly welcomed throughout the travel sector.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Friday (3 July) the first exemptions to the country’s 14-day quarantine on arrival policy, which will come into force from 10 July.
Spain, France, Italy and Germany are the first countries to get the green light, with a full list of more than 50 exempted countries due to be announced later on Friday.
The Foreign Office will also ease its global no travel advisory on Saturday (4 July) to reflect the exemptions and allow international travel to resume.
The UK’s devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will make their own separate decision on quarantine exemptions.
“Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation," said Shapps. "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.”
Here’s what travel had to say about the measures.
“The government announcement today will be greeted with huge relief by the travel industry, which can now plan ahead and take summer holiday bookings.
"Later today, we will receive the list of countries exempted from quarantine restrictions for passengers returning to England from 10 July, and the FCO will set out exemptions for a number of destinations from its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ international travel, with those changes coming into effect from tomorrow.
"Travel businesses have been under enormous pressure since the start of the pandemic, and the industry can now start to meet customer’s pent-up appetite for travel. Getting the balance of health risk and economic risk is a difficult challenge, and we strongly support the government in taking this initiative.
"There will be some changes to peoples’ travel experiences because of the health and safety measures in place to limit Covid-19, and it will be important going forward that customers speak to their travel provider so that they so they can book and travel with confidence.
"And, of course, continued access to overseas destinations depends on our keeping Covid infection and transmission rates low in this country, so everyone should continue to heed public health guidelines.
"We now urgently await the approach to be taken by the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to relaxing travel restrictions."
“There are still several obstacles to be overcome, namely ensuring Scotland support the planned changes, but this is a welcome boost for the travel industry at such a critical time.
"The traffic light system will bring clarity to holidaymakers and businesses wanting to travel overseas as well as to travel firms desperate for visibility on what they can offer for this summer and beyond.
"It is remarkably good news that the blanket quarantine restrictions are being lifted from 10 July, and that the changed FCO travel advice will mean we can plan to go away from tomorrow.”
"The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK welcomes a more pragmatic approach of replacing a blanket quarantine, thereby enabling the restart and recovery of the aviation sector and subsequent vital boost to the UK’s economic recovery.
“The list of exempted countries is what everyone is eagerly waiting for ,and what we need is clear and concise requirements following a period of short notice interventions that were often drip fed through to the industry and public.
"Lifting quarantine and revising the FCO travel advice, combined with the enhanced health measures employed throughout the passenger journey, is finally allowing the airline industry to safely welcome back passengers with their wellbeing and confidence as our top priorities.
"This week, the EU issued its own list recommending the lifting of travel restrictions from over 40 member states and third countries, and we believe there is no reason the whole of the UK should not reopen to at least that number of initial countries given the multi-layered risk mitigation measures now in place.
"Every day overseas markets are closed is costing the UK heavily in lost jobs, collapsing trade and negative social impacts. We urge the UK government to continually review and expand the list countries as soon as the criteria is met.”
"Today’s confirmation of extensive quarantine exemptions is a welcome relief for the business travel sector, which is still at risk of losing one in two jobs in coming months. Further help will be needed.
"The government has responded positively to the Business Travel Association’ (BTA) representations for vital business destinations to be included, with travel to key cities such as Frankfurt and Paris now possible and much welcomed.
"The BTA has never supported quashing quarantine completely. Safety must remain paramount, and the traffic-light system is a more practical solution to the evolving global situation."
“We welcome news people will soon be able to fly into Gatwick from a range of countries without needing to self-isolate. Alongside changes to the government’s official travel advice, this announcement provides a significant boost to consumer confidence and sends a very clear message it is now safe to take summer holidays abroad, visit family and friends ,and take international business trips again.
“We are looking forward to welcoming passengers back to Gatwick in larger numbers. Gatwick has a range of measures in place to protect the wellbeing and safety of both passengers and staff. This includes asking passengers to bring and wear their own face covering throughout the airport, and also to check our latest health guidance before leaving home.
“We look forward to publication later today of what we hope will be an extensive list of countries that will be exempt from the need to self-isolate on return to the UK and we welcome the fact this will be kept under close review. The aviation industry has a long way to go to in its recovery from this pandemic, however today’s news will hopefully mark the start of a turning point.”