English holidaymakers can embark on overseas trips from Saturday as quarantine restrictions are lifted and travel advice is updated.
The 14-day self-isolation policy for people returning to or visiting England from destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Germany is being lifted, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced.
Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will exempt a number of countries from its advisory against all non-essential travel, which has been in place since March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The change in travel advice comes into force on Saturday, while the quarantine policy will be amended from July 10.
That means people who depart on Saturday and spend at least six days in certain locations will not need to self-isolate on their return.
A full list of the countries deemed to pose “a reduced risk to the public health of UK citizens” will be published later on Friday.
It will be kept “under constant review” so that self-isolation measures can be re-introduced if health risks increase.
Around 60 countries and overseas territories will be on the initial list, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News.
There is speculation it will include countries in the European Union, British territories including Bermuda and Gibraltar, as well as Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
Ministers failed to guarantee reciprocal arrangements with all the included nations, meaning some may require English holidaymakers to go into quarantine at the beginning of their trip.
They were also unable to convince the devolved administrations to sign off on the overall plan, with the DfT stating that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will “set out their own approach”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said the UK Government is lifting quarantine restrictions for countries “which present differing levels of risk”.
“It is disappointing that the UK Government have chosen to make an announcement on the countries they intend to exempt before a four nations agreement has been reached,” he said.
“We would still like to reach a four nations approach if possible, but that is difficult when the UK Government change proposals and give us last-minute sight of them.”
The requirement for everyone arriving into the UK – bar a handful of exemptions – to self-isolate for 14 days was introduced on June 8.
It was met with fierce criticism over the impact on the UK’s travel, tourism and hospitality industries.
The DfT said a risk assessment for lifting the quarantine for arrivals into England was conducted by the Joint Biosecurity Centre in consultation with Public Health England and the chief medical officer.
This considered factors for each destination, including the prevalence of coronavirus, the number of new cases and the potential trajectory of the disease.
Passengers will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in England.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation.
“Whether you are a holidaymaker ready to travel abroad or a business eager to open your doors again, this is good news for British people and great news for British businesses.
“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.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency and member of the Quash Quarantine campaign group, said: “There are still several obstacles to be overcome, namely ensuring Scotland support the planned changes.
“But this is a welcome boost for the travel industry at such a critical time.
A spokesman for trade association Airlines UK said: “There’s no doubt quarantine has had a devastating impact on our industry and whilst it’s welcome the Government has removed its blanket ban, we would encourage rigour and science is applied in all future decisions surrounding our businesses.”