European holidays about to commence as the UK opens travel from July 6

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 category.

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 dynamic.

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.