UK Travel: Air Bridges Explained
Friday, 29 May 2020
The UK government has recently introduced a compulsory 14-day quarantine rule for those arriving into the country from abroad and a strict implementation of this policy is widely expected to deter those wishing to go on holiday this summer.
Most countries around the world have had quarantine rules in place since the early days of the pandemic. However, restrictions in Europe are starting to ease with some countries borders opening up and self-isolation policies soon set to expire or be reviewed.
In contrast, the UK have been late in introducing their quarantine measures, with a start date of June 8. With the measures set to be reviewed every three weeks, the government is said to be debating the introduction of “air bridges” between the UK and popular destinations within Europe. Meaning the possibility of a summer holiday may be back on the cards.
What are air bridges?
Otherwise known as “bubbles” or “corridors” an air bridge would be a mutual travel link between the UK and another country wherein travellers would be exempt from quarantine schemes.
These travel networks are thought to be a way of reopening leisure and business travel between countries that have a similar control of the coronavirus and its reproduction rate.
When are where will air bridges be introduced?
This is currently unclear. The 14-day quarantine is set to be introduced on June 8 and airlines like easyJet have already announced plans to resume some operations from June 15. With other carriers also announcing their return for June or July, there may be some possibility that the government will aim for some air bridges to be introduced during this period.
There are a number of candidates for which the UK could set up an air bridge with, we look at a few options below:
There are currently no quarantine rules in mainland Portugal and the tourist board has said that a “return to tourism is not far away,”. Some flights are also still operating between London and Lisbon, but British sun-seekers are not likely to consider travel to the country until June when more hotels and beaches start to open.
The UK government has reportedly entered into an initial series of talks over an air bridge for British holidaymakers allowing them to avoid the 14-day quarantine upon their return home. It is thought that the immunity from quarantine would also apply to Portuguese nationals wishing to visit the UK.
Italy is due to reopen its borders on June 3, to countries in the Schengen area and the UK. Importantly, those arriving into Italy will not be required to self-isolate.
With the country opening bars, cafes and restaurants in the middle of May and the planned reopening of hotels in June, it seemed Italy could be a popular summer holiday destination.
Complications arose on May 19 however with Italy’s Foreign Minister stating that he did not want any bilateral agreements with countries within the EU when it comes to tourism and would rather the country allow the flow of tourists in a freer manner.
British travellers take over 8 million trips to France every year and the country was originally suggested as being immune from the 14-day quarantine scheme.
Borders will reopen with Switzerland and Germany from June 15 and the Eurostar is running some services between Paris and London. Nevertheless, anyone arriving in France must have a health certificate that proves they don’t have COVID-19, or quarantine for two weeks, until July.
Lockdown in France is easing with most bars and restaurants set to reopen on June 2 and if the reproduction rate remains similar to the UK an air bridge could be seriously considered.
Those arriving into Spain will no longer have to self-isolate from July 1. In addition to this, tourist establishments are preparing to resume activity from late June.
Lockdown is easing in phases with some hotels, bars and restaurants reopening in quieter regions. However, most are not expected to open until tourist season begins.
Spain is a favourite holiday destination for many and therefore the UK government may seek to establish an air bridge with the country. News has also emerged of the Canary Islands becoming the first destination in the world to launch digital health certificates and advancements such as these could pave the way for travel links being introduced.
International tourists will be allowed to enter Greece from June 15, when some tourism businesses and hotels will open. At the moment all arrivals will have to undergo a two-week quarantine but COVID-19 testing for all those coming into the country is set to replace this.
While Greece may be opening up again, the tourism minister has suggested that an air bridge with the UK may not be happening for some time as he believes the UK to be in a worse position when it comes to controlling the virus.
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