Boris Johnson is reportedly backing efforts to create air bridges to revive the prospect of overseas summer holidays through deals with low risk European countries.
Ministers and officials are working “at pace” on the plans which could enable holidaymakers to sidestep the UK’s new 14-day quarantine from the end of June to travel to countries including Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece.
The prime minister is said to be “deeply engaged on the issue and working on the options” after the government faced legal action by airlines and widespread travel industry protests against the two-week isolation, which came into effect on Monday, The Telegraph reported.
The Quash Quarantine group of more than 500 travel and hospitality businesses revealed on Tuesday that it would suspend its threatened legal action to overturn quarantine after receiving private top level government assurance that air bridges would be introduced from June 29.
A Government source was reported as saying: “It’s always been the plan to introduce travel corridors and we are proceeding through that plan.”
Confirmation of the aim to establish links to foreign holiday destinations could come as early as this week.
But any travel corridors would have to coincide with a change in Foreign Office advice banning any non-essential travel.
An industry source told the newspaper: “Their difficulty is how to change travel advice for some countries and not for others without causing a diplomatic row, and we’re led to believe that FCO advice would have changed before now were it not for those localised considerations.”
The Department for Transport is also expected to publish guidance for “safe” post-coronavirus air travel including compulsory masks or face coverings, regular and widespread use of hand sanitiser, contactless travel and social distancing where possible.
Applying the two-metre social distancing rule on flights has been ruled out because it would make flying uneconomic.
Instead there will be strict rules on embarking and leaving aircraft to minimise contact, the use of facemasks or coverings throughout flights, toilet rotas and frequent use of hand gel by passengers and crew.
“All passengers have to be treated as if they have [Covid-19], because small numbers will be carrying the virus without symptoms (about 1 in 400 in UK at end May 2020). This will require new levels of hygiene,” said advice led by Ashley Woodcock, a professor of respiratory medicine.