France, Spain, Germany and Italy included on quarantine free list
The government has published a list of countries which will be exempt from the UK Covid-19 quarantine law from July 10, with travellers from France, Spain, Germany and Italy among others no longer required to go into self-isolation on arrival.
The Department for Transport had confirmed that the four aforementioned countries would be on the list comprising of over 50 nations, prior to its full publication on Friday.
Nations such as Belgium and Greece are included on the exempt list, while China, the US, Sweden and Portugal are among the notable omissions, meaning travellers coming to the UK from these countries must abide by the quarantine.
Travellers coming to the UK from any exempt countries will not need to quarantine, on the condition that they had not entered any of the non-exempt nations in the 14 days prior to their arrival.
Until July 10, the majority of travellers entering the UK must continue to abide by the law and self-isolate for 14 days when arriving. That law was first introduced in early June, with only travellers from the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man exempt at the time.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office, which currently advises against all but essential travel to most countries, has published a list of exceptions to this advice, ahead of an update to its current recommendations which will come on Saturday.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps explained that countries on the exempt list will be graded by a traffic-light system and flagged as amber or green, based on the rate of infection and number of cases in that country.
Countries marked as amber, which include France, Germany, Italy and Spain, will have a “reciprocal arrangement” to ensure UK travellers entering those countries will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days when there.
Countries which are marked green will, however, have some quarantine restrictions in place for UK arrivals. The green ranking indicates that the virus’ presence there is very low.
Among other countries included on the list are overseas UK territories such as Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, alongside micro-states such as Andorra, San Marino, and the Vatican City State.
Shapps told the BBC: “I take New Zealand as a good example. They do have restrictions when you arrive, but we thought it was right to include them [on the UK's list of exempt countries] because people may want to come here from New Zealand, and that's no particular threat to our hard-won gains that everyone's been going through, staying at home.”
The Department for Transport said that the Joint Biosecurity Centre had carried out a risk assessment in consultation with Public Health England and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, taking into account the rate of infection, number of cases and projected development of the virus in each country. The list of exempt countries will be reviewed constantly and amended if the risk level changes.
Shapps added: “The entire nation has worked tirelessly to get to this stage, therefore safety must remain our watch word and we will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with.”
All passengers coming from the exempt countries barring very few listed exemptions must still provide contact information when arriving and disclose whether they have travelled through any other countries in the 14 days prior to arriving in the UK.
The news will come as a welcome boost to the travel industry, as airlines seek to resume normal services ahead of the usual peak summer travel period.
The devolved governments have been handed responsibility for determining their own exemptions from the quarantine law. The Scottish and Welsh governments are yet to confirm their decisions on the matter and have voiced opposition to the changes, while in Northern Ireland the quarantine will continue to apply to all travellers entering from outside Great Britain & the Republic of Ireland.