British Virgin Islands

Friday, Nov 27, 2020

UK: Travel to Greece, Turkey and 71 other countries officially approved

People living in England have officially been given the green light to travel abroad to 73 countries from July 10.
But the US is not on the list of countries and overseas territories that English holidaymakers can visit without needing to self-isolate on their return.

This means quarantine restrictions for people returning to or visiting England from destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Germany will be lifted from that date onwards.

Being dubbed ‘travel corridors’ by the Government, Greece and Turkey have also been added to the list of countries, but Portugal has not.

Currently the rules apply to England only as an agreement with the whole of the UK has not yet been reached.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said it was ‘disappointing’ the UK Government announced its plan ‘before a four nations agreement has been reached’.

The announcement means Foreign and Commonwealth Office has officially exempted a number of countries from its previous advisory against all non-essential travel.

Other countries on the list include New Zealand, and British Oversea Territories including the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said the US is not included as ‘they have got very high numbers of infections’.

The Scottish Government said the UK Government’s list consists of countries ‘which present differing levels of risk’.

The Department for Transport said risk assessments were conducted by the Joint Biosecurity Centre in consultation with Public Health England and the chief medical officer, considering each country’s prevalence of coronavirus, the number of new cases and the potential trajectory of the disease.

Approved destinations pose ‘a reduced risk to the public health of UK citizens’ but the list will be kept ‘under constant review’, the Department for Transport said.

Ministers failed to guarantee reciprocal arrangements with all the included destinations, meaning some – such as New Zealand – will continue to order English holidaymakers to go into quarantine at the beginning of their trip.

It is thought many countries are reportedly wary of allowing tourists from Britain to enter after spikes in coronavirus cases in certain areas – particularly Leicester after it went into local lockdown this week.

The requirement for everyone arriving into the UK – bar a handful of exemptions – to self-isolate for 14 days was introduced on June 8.

It was met with fierce criticism over the impact on the UK’s travel, tourism and hospitality industries.

Passengers will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in England.

Anyone self-isolating because they have arrived, or are due to return before July 10, will be able to stop from that date.

Mr Shapps said: ‘Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation.

‘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.’

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency and member of the Quash Quarantine campaign group, said: ‘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.’

A spokesperson for trade association Airlines UK said: ‘There’s no doubt quarantine has had a devastating impact on our industry and whilst it’s welcome the Government has removed its blanket ban, we would encourage rigour and science is applied in all future decisions surrounding our businesses.’

All travellers – apart from a small list of exemptions – will still need to provide contact information on arrival to the UK, including details of destinations they have visited or passed through during the last 14 days.

Any travellers that have been in or passed through a country which is not on the exemptions list in the previous 14 days may be asked to self-isolate on return to England.

People have been warned not to travel if they have symptoms of coronavirus and to tell a member of staff or crew if they develop symptoms while travelling.
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