The UK has established a raft of new air bridges – expanding the range of countries that Brits can travel to without the need to quarantine when they land back in the UK.
On Thursday, 20 August Portugal was added to the safe travel list, effective from 22 August.
Tourists arriving back from scores of countries and territories are now no longer subject to the government’s 14-day quarantine rule.
Not all of these will have reciprocal agreements and UK travellers visiting some of these countries may need to quarantine on arrival, however.
The so-called “travel corridors” pose “a reduced risk to the public health of UK citizens”, according to the Department for Transport.
However, the list remains “under constant review”.
On Saturday 8 August Andorra, the Bahamas and Belgium were removed from the travel corridor list.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated air bridges would only be agreed with countries which have a coronavirus test and trace system at the same standard as that used in Britain.
He told the Commons Transport Select Committee that introducing air bridges is a “massive priority”, and added: “I understand entirely the pain that aviation is going through. I know both for airports, for airlines and actually for ground handlers as well, this coronavirus has been a complete disaster.”
So while staycations are the biggest trend this summer, those itching to go overseas will get their fix soon enough. Below are some of the destinations that have been announced and where to stay when visiting them.
Which countries have an ‘air bridge’ with the UK?
The full list of countries that have an air bridge with the UK is: Akrotiri and Dhekeli, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Faroe Islands, French Polynesia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macau, Mauritius, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Réunion, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, St Barthélemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Vatican City and Vietnam.
Below are some of the most popular holiday destinations that have been given the air bridge green light.
When cases started to rise in Italy back in late February, that’s when we knew coronavirus had reached the West. Now, as cases there dwindle, it opened its borders to tourists at the start of June and is expected to be one of the UK’s air bridge partner nations.
Where to stay: wedged between Pisa and Florence in rural Tuscany, Villa Lena is a postcard-perfect agriturismo hotel and artists residency set among rolling hills. Here, learn to make pasta or join the artists in residence for sunset aperitivo or try your hand at truffle hunting in the nearby forests.
Rooms from £205 per night, villa-lena.it
Germany opened its borders to European nations on June 15, but recently announced it would tighten its lockdown restrictions after regional resurgences of the virus. While its borders remain open, those looking to visit should check out where the outbreaks are and plan their trips accordingly.
Where to stay: for a socially-distanced escape, head to the spa town of Baden Baden in Germany’s Black Forest. Belle Epoque is a charming boutique hotel with just 20 rooms all designed with a distinctly French influence (the town is just a 20-minute drive to the French border).
Rooms from £181 per night, hotel-belle-epoque.de
There are concerns that Greece will be added to the list of countries that require quarantine upon arrival to the UK, but as of yet this has not been announced, meaning that Brits are currently free to travel without quarantining.
Where to stay: while Santorini and Mykonos are perennial favourites, Sifnos offers an alternative Cycladic adventure. With views to rival Santorini’s Oia and perched above Poulatis beach on Sifnos’ east coast, Verina Astra is undoubtedly the island’s sexiest hotel.
Rooms from £191 per night, verinahotelsifnos.com
What are the quarantine rules?
For countries without air bridges, quarantine rules still apply. The US and Thailand are some of the notable countries which still do not have travel corridors with the UK. The travel corridor between the UK and Spain was also closed after the number of coronavirus cases in Spain continued to rise.
On June 8 the UK government introduced a mandatory two-week quarantine for all incoming passengers. People who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England, and health officials are conducting ‘spot checks’ on all of those in self isolation.
Air bridges will mean Brits can travel to and from the selected countries without the need to quarantine on return.