UK scrapping quarantine for many visitors, but not from US

LONDON (AP) – The British government said yesterday it is scrapping a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from about 60 countries deemed “lower risk” for the coronavirus, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy – but not the United States (US), the world’s worst-hit country from COVID-19.

The change takes effect on July 10, just over a month after the United Kingdom (UK) began requiring international arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks. The full list of exempted countries was announced late yesterday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said countries will be coded on a traffic-light system: green for low risk, amber for medium and red for high-risk.

The US, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, will be in the red category, and arrivals will have to quarantine.

“They have got very high numbers of infections, which is why they are not on the list today,” Shapps said.

Today, the government will also exempt several countries from its advice against overseas travel, meaning UK tourists can once again head abroad on vacation.

Shapps said the changes are “good news for British people and great news for British businesses.” But he stressed that the government could re-impose quarantine restrictions “in countries we are reconnecting with.”

The changes announced apply only to England, a sign of friction between Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s central government and semi-autonomous administrations in the rest of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London. PHOTO: AP