As Europe gradually opens after extensive lockdown, the UK government is ready to relax blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel, as confirmed by ministers. Holidaymakers can now expect to travel to some European countries without requiring to spend 14 days in quarantine on their return. France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany Turkey, Norway are the countries expected to figure in the list except for Sweden and Portugal. The UK will publish the full list of travel corridor next week.
It is time for the summer holidays
A government spokesman said that the
relaxation would give people the opportunity for a summer holiday overseas
while invigorating the UK economy. However, he stressed that implementing the
plans for relaxation would depend upon the risks of staying low. Countries will
be marked in the colors of the traffic light, red, amber, and green to denote
the level of risk, depending on the coronavirus’s prevalence. The government
said that it would not hesitate to put on the brakes if the situation
demands. Portugal has been left out of
the list because of the recent rise in the number of new cases in and around
the capital, Lisbon, while Sweden has a higher infection rate than the UK and
did not merit any consideration. Both countries are likely to be in the red
What caused the change of heart?
The government’s blanket quarantine
policy had left the travel sector fuming that had even gone for a war on the
government, and the new calibrated risk-based approach is likely to quieten the
government’s critics. However, the controversy around the policy that had
turned into a storm will most likely not go away but, at best, subside.
Portugal, which does not find a place in the list of exemptions, may feel hard
done by as it desperately seeks the patronage of UK travelers.
What about the US?
Although there is no decision about
the US yet, the huge transatlantic flight market is too lucrative for the UK to
ignore. Considering the cozy relationship between London and Washington weighed
against the US public health, which is nowhere close to the qualifying terms
for making it to the list, the situation has developed into a tricky diplomatic
However, for UK aviation, the
announcement is a step in the right direction, but they want more relaxation
for the passengers to become exempt by testing at the airports. But the
government has not said anything about that in public.
Regardless of the country from which UK travelers return, they must declare the address they plan to stay at on their return, and legally they must wear face coverings during travel in airplanes and ferries.
The travel industry eagerly awaits
the list of countries as it could end their long wait to restart international
travel business that has been the worst hit due to the coronavirus
pandemic. The travel sector is hopeful
that the government will maintain the momentum of reopening international travel
within Europe, which could signal the beginning of a new normal.