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Saturday, Dec 05, 2020

Brits 'could go on foreign holidays from July 4 as air bridges open'

People living in the UK could be allowed to go on foreign holidays as early as July, it is claimed.
The government is allegedly expected to announce a small pool of countries included in the ‘air bridge’ scheme on June 29, with the program potentially starting on July 4.

Boris Johnson is said to be considering a total of 12 short-haul destinations with low levels of coronavirus in the plan, which will allow people to travel back and forth without the need for a 14-day quarantine.

People could only go abroad with members of their household or support bubble and would have to follow social distancing rules while away, The Telegraph reports.

Greece, Spain Portugal and France are among the 12 places being looked into by the government, although the final scheme will reportedly involve fewer than 10 countries.

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A source has said the Foreign Office would have to change its advice against ‘all but essential’ travel to make the plan work.

They said: ‘The plan is to announce a small number of air bridges on June 29th, though it won’t come into force until July 4.

‘Obviously it will depend on factors such as the scientific advice and the level of coronavirus infections at the time.’

It comes as reports claim the government is considering doing Covid-19 tests on arrivals in UK airports in order to kickstart the tourism industry.

A trial being launched in a big airport next month will see travellers undergoing a swab test after passing through immigration and customs, The Times reports.

It is hoped the tests will eventually identify those infected within seven hours and passengers with negative results would skip the 14-day isolation period.

Summer vacations for people in Britain previously looked unlikely, as the UK has the third-highest official coronavirus death toll in the world with 42,461 lives lost.

However, chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reduced the threat level from four to three this week, saying transmission is no longer ‘high or rising exponentially’.

Portugal’s ambassador to the UK, Manuel Lobo Antunes, says he believes the situation is now ‘under control’ and is keen to welcome ‘as many British as possible’.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘There was very good news for you, for us, for Europe that the alert system has come from four to three and that means a significant improvement in the control of the pandemic here in the UK.’

Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva also said earlier in June that any Brits thinking of travelling over this summer would be ‘most welcome’.

He expressed hope that an air bridge between the UK and Portugal could be secured by the end of June.
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