Coronavirus: UK holidaymakers left in the dark over quarantine-free travel

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

Holidaymakers have been left in the dark over plans to lift quarantine restrictions for people coming into the UK.

People arriving in the UK - including returning Britons - are currently required to self-isolate for 14 days to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The Government is expected to announce a list of countries which will be exempt from the restrictions this week but so far no details have been announced.

Last week, the Government announced it would rate countries as either green, amber or red, depending on the prevalence of Covid-19.

Number 10 had indicated they were working on setting up a relatively small amount of air bridges with some European countries to help get the tourism industry moving again.

But now, as many as 75 countries could be exempted from the quarantine restrictions when the list is finally published, reports have suggested.

Foreign holidays look back within sight following minister’s plans to remove the blanket quarantine arrangements for UK arrivals Credit: PA

The list will lift the ban on non-essential travel to nearly all EU destinations, the British territories including Bermuda and Gibraltar, as well as Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, the Daily Telegraph reported.

These changes could come into force from Monday, July 6.

All 75 have been judged sufficiently low-risk destinations based on their Covid-19 situation.

However some countries on the new list could have restrictions for people flying out from the UK.

For example, Greece announced earlier this week it was not allowing holidaymakers to fly in from the UK until July 15. New Zealand is also not letting people fly in.

Other countries where the amount of Covid-19 cases is high, such as the US and in Brazil, will likely to categorised as red.

Passengers travelling in from countries deemed to have coronavirus under control will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival in the UK, t Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

To add to the confusion, the UK and Scottish Government have took to blaming one another for the delay.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested the Scottish Government was to blame for the delay on quarantine-free travel abroad.

Mr Shapps told SNP transport spokesman Gavin Newlands in the House of Commons: “I’d appreciate his help in ensuring that air bridges can get going as quickly as possible.

“I’m very keen to get the devolved administrations, including the Scottish Government, on board so we can get this thing announced.”

Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf hit back at Mr Shapps’ comments and claimed the UK Government had repeatedly redrawn the list of countries under consideration without consulting the devolved administrations.

In talks with Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Wednesday night, the devolved administrations were presented with the latest proposed list of air bridge countries which had been “significantly changed” from previous versions.

“Further information, including yet more revision to the list of countries, was not provided until after the meeting had ended,” Mr Yousaf added.

Independent travel agents have called on the Government to provide clarity on the situation in order so they can resume business.

Mark Pollard, managing director of Tony Sheldon Travel in Maidenhead, said: “The complete uncertainty about this whole period has been the main issue for us, whether it be air bridges and travel corridors or government’s overseas wanting to shut their doors to UK visitors.

“Everyone is nervous about booking holidays, we don’t have any for July and 80 per cent of our August bookings have been either moved on or cancelled which has had a drastic effect on our business as a whole.

Airlines are ramping up their flight schedules in a bid to recover from the coronavirus pandemic Credit: Niall Carson/PA

“We’ve had no income since the end of March, and as a small firm with a few employees and loyal customers it’s been incredibly tough.”

Sue Alexander, managing director of Eagle Travel in Bedford said: “It’s been pretty brutal for us, especially during March and April where bookings completely plummeted and we were focused on paying back refunds which was very difficult.

“The problem recently has been the mere speculation about air bridges and travel corridors. We’re without concrete advice, so it’s tricky to know what we should plan for.

“Without 100 per cent clarity we’ve been holding fire on making holiday bookings as the last thing we want to do is tie up our customers’ money in a holiday we will have to refund later on.”