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UK ‘air bridges’ plan takes shape

written by Sandy Milne | June 2, 2020

An artist’s impression of a Boeing 777-9X in British Airways livery. (Boeing)

‘Air bridges’ between the UK and low-risk European nations are likely to be introduced by the end of the month, according to British outlet The Times.

Under the plan, arrivals from low-risk countries would be exempt from the two-week long quarantine period, which enters into force as of 8 June. All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and provide details of where they will be staying under the plans.

Though little detail has been given as to which countries such an exemption might apply to, the paper reports that government officials have flagged 29 June as a possible date for implementation. According to an anonymous source quoted in The Times, the government was evaluating the proposal “very seriously; as things stand they will happen, likely on 29 June”, they said.

Many have noted that the shift comes in time for the summer vacation season. Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis had previously appealed to the British government for an exemption, arguing that a “blanket” quarantine would have a disastrous effect on the country’s economy.

Another London-based outlet, The Independent, reports that airlines and industry groups have touted a list of 45 nations they want exempted from the quarantine requirements. As many locations in Europe begin to reopen, airlines including EasyJet, Jet2 and Ryanair, have reportedly written to the UK’s Department for Transport, requesting exemptions for key holiday destinations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has himself hinted that the shift could happen within such a time frame. Speaking last week, he said that this time frame was reasonable assuming the UK “makes progress in tackling the disease, and … that the other countries are in at least as good a position as we are”.

A spokesman for the PM said, “The government will continue to look at further options as we move forward and these will include air bridges – agreements between countries who both have low transmission rates to recognise each other’s departure screening measures for passengers and removing the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers.”

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