Government confirmation on the first countries to be connected via ‘air bridges’ to avoid UK quarantine rules could come as early as today.
The change of policy had been expected on June 29 to coincide with the three-week review of the imposition of the 14-day quarantine.
A major travel industry backlash has forced a government rethink over the two-week isolation rule with a series of travel corridors to be established to countries viewed to be low-risk.
A first phase to be available for travel from July 4 is expected to include popular holiday destinations such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece alongside Gibraltar and Bermuda.
The likes of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Finland and low-risk island nations are also under consideration.
However, doubts have been cast over the inclusion of Portugal, due to an outbreak of Covid-19 around Lisbon, and Sweden, due to its higher rate.
There have also been reports of a fresh coronavirus outbreak in the Costa del Sol after more than 80 people tested positive.
The details of travel corridors could come from Downing Street on Friday afternoon, industry sources suggested.
Paul Charles, spokesman for the Quash Quarantine industry lobby group, said an air bridge to Spain but not Portugal, or any neighbouring EU countries, would be unenforceable and lead to “tourism subterfuge”.
“You are not going to be able to stop British people flying to Madrid, driving a car to Portugal, then going back via Madrid,” said Charles, chief executive of PC Consultancy.
“That’s why it needs a pan-European travel corridor. There are many states in Europe but it is in effect one country because of freedom of movement under Schengen.”
Pressure is mounting on ministers after Ireland announced that it will open air bridges to bypass its quarantine from July 9.
This is likely to increase the potential exemptions because anyone flying into Ireland will be free to travel to the UK as part of the Common Travel Area, free from the need to quarantine for 14 days in the UK.
A ‘green list’ will be compiled by the Irish government before that date detailing which countries people can travel between without having to undergo a two-week quarantine.
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar also said checks and controls would be stepped up at airports and ports.
But the list of accepted countries could change every two weeks.
“If a country ends up having a second wave, they may be taken off the list,” Varadkar said.
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