Monday, June 29, was supposed to be the first opportunity for the UK to abandon its 14-day quarantine requirement for incoming travellers. Nothing happened. The measure was neither halted nor extended, but the public was told that ‘air bridges’ were imminent, a move that would allow passengers to book flights with confidence knowing that on their return they would not have to self-isolate for two weeks.
Monday July 6 was mooted as the date from which these new conditions would apply. However, with July 6 fast approaching, the UK government has failed to publish a list of ‘safe’ countries to which UK passengers may fly without quarantine on return..
“The government’s quarantine rules have been a fiasco from the outset,” Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association told the Guardian newspaper.
“The fact is we did not stop people coming into our country when our infection rates were very high. Then, in early June, Priti Patel introduced a blanket quarantine period for all arrivals when many countries had, by this point, done a far better job than our government at controlling the spread of the virus.
“We have now been told for almost a week that a change of policy is on its way, without knowing the details. Frankly, this is courting disaster – many of our members’ jobs are under threat because their employers don’t know what holidays they are allowed to sell.”
Early in the week of June 29 the government indicated, through unofficial briefings, that it would imminently publish a list of ‘safe’ Mediterranean countries, including Spain, France and Greece, on Wednesday or Thursday.
By mid-week the new plan had been shelved, with ministers leaking a new approach. The Foreign Office would lift its ban on non-essential travel to up to 95 countries, including nearly all EU countries, British overseas territories, such as Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Australia and New Zealand.
The only problem with Plan C is that many countries on the ‘green’ list may not welcome visitors from Britain, given the fact that the UK’s death rate is far in excess of any continental figures. On Thursday, July 2, 89 people died from coronavirus in the UK compared to 30 in Italy, five in Spain and 14 in France.
The upshot is that airlines and travellers have no certainty about being admitted to EU countries, and as matters stand at present the UK’s quarantine rules stay in place.