Coronavirus: Everything you need to know about air bridges

The creation of air bridges has been proposed as a way of ensuring more travellers can be excluded from the incoming 14-day quarantine Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

Air bridges have been proposed as a way of ensuring more travellers can be excluded from the incoming 14-day quarantine.

The quarantine rules come into force on June 8 and people arriving in the UK from overseas, except from the Channel Islands, Isle of Mann or Ireland, will be told to isolate for 14 days in a bid to prevent coronavirus cases being introduced into the country.

The new quarantine rules have caused unease in the Tory ranks and been condemned by businesses.

One of the ways around a quarantine could be to create air bridges, so what are they and how would they work?

  • What is an air bridge?

Air bridges - also known as "travel corridors" - would involve passengers travelling between the UK and specific destinations not needing to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in the UK.

The UK is set to enforce quarantine rules on June 8 - these are already in place in other countries in Europe.

Passengers travelling between the UK and overseas would have to quarantine for 14 days. Credit: PA
  • What countries have proposed them with UK?

The air bridges would be implemented on routes between countries deemed at low-risk of spreading coronavirus.

Visit Britain chief executive Patricia Yates has said the tourism industry would benefit from air bridges with countries such as the US, France, Germany and Italy.

So far, Portugal is the only country in discussions with the UK about air bridges so tourists can avoid being quarantined.

Augusto Santos Silva told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “quarantine is an enemy of tourism”.

João Fernandes, from Algarve Tourism Board, is hoping an airbridge connection can be established with the UK.

This would mean tourists going both ways would not have to quarantine upon arrival.

He told ITV News: “You (Britain) are our main market.

"We are talking about last year for instance we had six million overnight stays."

Germany's borders will reopen from June 15 to tourists from the UK, the Schengen area and the EU.

Currently, arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days – but arrivals from the UK, EU and the Schengen area will be exempt, unless entering from an area where there is a high rate of infection.

Greece will not accept UK visitors when its borders reopen on June 15. Credit: PA
  • And which countries haven't?

However Greece said it will not accept visitors from Britain when it reopens its borders from June 15.

The Greek Tourism Ministry said travellers from the permitted countries will be able to enter Greece on direct flights to Athens and to the northern city of Thessaloniki.

The list will be expanded on July 1 to include other countries, the ministry said, but at the moment the UK is not included.

Cyprus has said it will cover all costs for anyone who tests positive for coronavirus while on holiday in a bid to bring tourists back to the island.

But at the moment people in the UK are currently not included on a list of countries from which citizens are able to fly to Cyprus.

Italy's borders have reopened from June 3 to EU tourists and citizens from the Schengen area, but Britain is not included in the EU or Schengen area.

Credit: PA
  • How quickly could they be introduced?

Quarantine rules will be reviewed every three weeks, meaning air bridges could be installed by the end of June.

  • Why has this been proposed?

There is concern that people will not take overseas holidays, and foreign tourists will not visit the UK, if they have to go into quarantine for 14 days, damaging economies and airlines across the world.

  • Who is in favour of air bridges?

Support for air bridges has been given by hundreds of UK travel and tourism businesses, a number of senior Conservative MPs and Portugal’s foreign minister.

Credit: PA
  • What about Boris Johnson?

Reports suggest the Prime Minister is in favour of air bridges.

His official spokesperson said on Tuesday that the government is still looking at the suggestion.

Matt Hancock said the idea of air bridges had been floated but declined to say which countries had expressed an interest.

  • What has the home secretary said?

Priti Patel said the government continues to explore "all options for future safe travel", including travel corridors.

She added: "Any international approaches will be bilateral and agreed with the other countries concerned.

“We need to ensure that those countries are deemed to be safe. We are not alone in our fight against this disease, or in the measures we have taken to stop it.”

  • What has the transport secretary said?

Grant Shapps said the government is working with the transport industry “to see how we can introduce agreements with other countries when safe to do so, so we can go abroad and tourists can come here”.

  • What do scientists think?

Professor Keith Neal, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Nottingham said people from the UK who visit countries with less disease and maintain social distancing will be at a lower risk of being infected.

“On a Portuguese beach you are less at risk than a UK beach,” he explained.