The government will announce the opening of international travel corridors to a list of countries on Monday June 29 but not before, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today.
Shapps said the announcement would be made in Parliament.
He said travel corridors would form “part of a solution” to quarantine restrictions imposed on June 8. But he told MPs: “There are places where coronavirus is raging.”
The transport secretary declined to say how many travel corridors there would be, although reports suggest quarantine restrictions will be relaxed initially on travel to and from about 10 EU states.
Shapps told MPs on Parliament’s transport select committee: “We want to have a rational system [and] we want to make sure we don’t re-infect people, either by Brits coming back into the country or from people coming here from overseas.”
He insisted: “We will say something about air bridges on June 29. The announcement will be made in Parliament first. I can’t go into detail at this time.”
Asked about the criteria for developing travel corridors, Shapps told MPs: “[It depends] not only what the level of disease is, but also what the trajectory is.
“Do they [countries] have something similar to our NHS Test and Trace system in place? The capacity of this is enormous now. Does the country have that sort of capacity?
“Do they have the testing capability? Then what are their social distancing rules?”
Shapps said: “There are quite a lot of complexities. I don’t want to give people false hope.”
However, he insisted: “This is a massive priority. I understand the pain aviation is going through. The coronavirus has been a disaster. The only thing that would be worse is if we don’t get on top of it. That is why we introduced quarantine.
“We want sensible measures in pace. But it is very important we don’t throw away the work that has been done.
“We think international travel corridors – because they may include rail and ferries – are part of the solution and the government will say more about this on June 29.”
Use of travel corridors will mean “you won’t be part of quarantine”, he confirmed.
“We will be setting out a full clarification on June 29. I note it is only on Monday.”