The government confirmed it will “shortly begin to ease” quarantine restrictions at UK borders today, not just at airports but for international rail and ferry links.
In a written statement to Parliament, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed plans to publish a list of countries “later this week” from which travellers will not have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Details are now expected by Wednesday.
Shapps also confirmed the Foreign Office (FCO) is reviewing its advice against all but essential travel, with details also to follow “later this week”.
The statement on Monday followed the government’s announcement of a ‘Covid travel list’ late on Friday night (June 26) and decision to introduce a traffic light system of green, amber or red to classify countries depending on an assessment of the Covid-19 risk.
Arrivals from those in the green and amber categories will be exempt from quarantine measures from Monday July 6.
In today’s statement on ‘Easing coronavirus health measures at the UK border’, Shapps wrote: “I can confirm that the government will shortly begin to ease the health measures at the UK border, allowing passengers to be exempted from self-isolation requirements in certain circumstances on arrival in the UK.
“This will apply to international rail, maritime and aviation.”
He promised: “I will announce further details including a full list of the countries and territories from which arriving passengers will be exempted from self-isolation requirements later this week.
“Although people will not need to self-isolate after entering the UK from these countries, they must not be complacent about following the public health advice on hand hygiene and social distancing.
“Separately, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is reviewing its travel advice. Further details will be announced later this week.”
The statement today repeated some of the text of the announcement on June 26, explaining the government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre in consultation with Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer “has developed a categorisation of countries and territories” considered to present a lower risk of passengers entering the UK with Covid-19.
It noted: “This has been informed by factors including the prevalence of coronavirus within the country and, crucially, the numbers of new cases and potential trajectory of the disease in the country.”
The government will still require all passengers entering the UK to supply contact information.
And it has warned: “We will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge in the UK or within those countries we deem to be on our Covid travel list.”
In his statement today, Shapps insisted: “Public safety has been at the heart of our decision making.
“We have been guided by the science and worked closely with health and policy experts from across government to ensure the steps we are taking are gradual and will minimise the risk of new Covid-19 cases while helping to open our travel and tourism sector.”
He suggested the quarantine measures, introduced on June 8, had “contributed to keeping the number of Covid-19 transmissions in the UK as low as possible, helping to protect us from a second wave of the virus”.