UK to ease virus quarantine rules for ‘low risk’ countries

LONDON (AFP) – Britain said it will lift its two-week coronavirus quarantine rule for visitors arriving from some “low risk” countries, after pressure from airlines and the tourism sector.

The government said it will publish a list next week of the countries from where people will be allowed to enter Britain without needing to self-isolate for 14 days, as currently required.

The announcement will follow discussions with countries including France, Greece and Spain in “the coming days”, with the changes set to take effect in the week beginning July 6.

“Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world,” a United Kingdom (UK) government spokesman said.

The foreign office will also be updating its travel guidance, which currently advises against all non-essential travel outside Britain, to permit trips on travel corridors.

People ride a boat in the hot weather on the Regent’s Canal in London. PHOTO: AP

All passengers will be required by law to wear face coverings on planes and ferries, it added. Britain introduced its quarantine regime for most travellers arriving into the country on June 8, vowing to review the measures every three weeks.

The rules also applied to any Britons who had left the country and were returning.

It has faced criticism – and legal challenges – from airlines hard-hit by the pandemic, as well as from others in the travel industry who have argued it will devastate the domestic tourism sector.

Ministers have insisted for weeks they were looking at creating so-called air bridges with countries with low rates of virus transmission.

But they have yet to provide any clear details of the plan.