England to drop quarantine for overseas travellers but rule remains in Scotland
Arrivals into England from Spain, France, Italy and Germany will no longer need to go into mandatory self-isolation from next Friday, the UK Government has announced.
A full list of countries exempt from the quarantine measures, which were brought in last month amid a backlash from the tourism industry and some Conservative MPs, will be published later on Friday.
But the measures will only apply to England and are due to kick in days later than originally planned after a row with the Scottish Government.
The Foreign Office is also updating its advice warning against “all but essential” international travel to any country, and has now exempted destinations that the Government believes “no longer pose an unacceptably high risk of Covid-19”.
If the country someone visits is exempt under the FCO advice, they will no longer have to isolate themselves for 14 days upon their return — a requirement that airlines have argued heaps further pressure on already hard-hit industry.
Holyrood had accused ministers of failing to properly consult on the list of countries — prompting Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to urge First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to “get on board” with the plan.
Scottish ministers had said plans had to be “right for Scotland and properly supported by Scottish legislation”.
It is likely the quarantine measures will continue in Scotland until tourism restarts on 15 July.
In addition, the Scottish Government has not ruled out imposing quarantine measures on travellers coming to Scotland through England.
The Scottish Conservatives argue such restrictions would damage the Scottish economy.
Unveiling the latest proposals, 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.”
And he 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, barring those on a small list of exemptions, will still be required to give their contact information on arrival in the UK, as well as the details of any countries they have been in or through in the preceding two weeks.
The easing has been welcomed by trade group Airlines UK, who said it meant their members would "be able to restart services to many key markets in time for peak summer travel".
A UK Government spokesperson added: "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."