What are air bridges and which holiday destinations could be included?

Short-haul flights to popular European destinations are expected to resume from next month.

Air bridges will allow holidaymakers to travel abroad without the need to quarantine
Air bridges will allow holidaymakers to travel abroad without the need to quarantine

Travellers could soon be jetting off abroad in quarantine-free summer holidays as the Government is set to announce so-called air bridges with popular destinations.

Since March 23, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised British nationals against all but essential international travel.

Now, a number of short-haul flights to European countries are expected to resume from next month in a bid to kick-start the tourist economy.

Here is what you need to know about air bridges and travelling abroad.

– What are air bridges?

Also known as travel corridors, air bridges will allow Britons to go on holiday to certain destinations without needing to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK.

– Which countries are likely to be included?

The Government is expected to announce next week Britain’s first air bridges with “low-risk” European destinations, including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany.

Passengers at Gatwick airport
Passengers at Gatwick airport (Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)

According to reports, air bridges will be announced in batches, with the second set of destinations likely to include other European countries such as Denmark, Norway, Finland and Holland and “low-risk” Caribbean islands.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said air bridges would only be agreed with countries which have a coronavirus test and trace system of the same standard as that used in Britain.

When will air bridges be introduced?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

The first air bridges to low-risk countries could be in force from July 4, but Mr Shapps said no announcement will be made until June 29 when the quarantine measures will be officially reviewed.

– Which countries are unlikely to be included?

There were mixed reports over whether Portugal would be included in the UK’s plans next week after a spike in coronavirus cases in the country.

Long-haul flights to destinations such as Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong are reportedly not expected before late summer.

Flights to Australia are thought to be more complicated due to the need to stop over in other countries, which increases the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus.

– What are the rules on quarantine?

Since June 8, all passengers – bar a handful of exemptions – have been required to go into self-isolation for 14 days when they arrive in the UK.

People who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England, and police are allowed to use “reasonable force” to make sure they follow the rules.

– What measures have airports taken?

Temperature screening at Heathrow Airport
Temperature screening equipment being trialled at London Heathrow Airport (LHR Airports Ltd/PA Media)

Last month, Heathrow Airport began trialling thermal screening technology to detect elevated temperatures of arriving passengers.

Edinburgh Airport has implemented a colour-coded one-way system to maintain social distancing, while protective screens have been installed at check-in, security and arrivals, and staff wear face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE) in “passenger-facing areas”.

At Gatwick Airport, hand sanitiser stations, protective screens, regular deep cleaning and social distancing instructions have been introduced throughout the site, with face mask vending machines selling four masks for £3.

Pre-booked airport security slots are being trialled at Manchester Airport, in which passengers can reserve a free 15-minute window to use a dedicated lane taking them directly to a checkpoint.

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