Government confirms countries exempt from quarantine

A list of 73 countries and territories where English tourists can visit without self-isolating on their return has been published by the Department for Transport (DfT).

It features popular short-haul destinations such as Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, as well as long-haul locations including Australia, Barbados, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.

China, Portugal, Thailand, the Maldives and the US are among the notable absentees.

But in a tweet the Portuguese foreign affairs minister branded it “absurd” that Portugal had been left off the exempt list despite the UK having 28 times more deaths due to coronavirus.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) published a separate list of 67 countries and territories which will be exempt from its advisory against all non-essential travel from Saturday, making it easier for UK tourists to be covered by travel insurance while visiting.

Although the FCO included most of the places named by the DfT, among those missing are Fiji, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

There are also some destinations which the FCO listed but the DfT did not, such as Canada, Estonia, Malaysia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Singapore and the Portuguese regions of the Azores and Madeira.

Some of the countries on either or both lists continue to place restrictions on UK holidaymakers, including Canada and New Zealand.

The DfT said destinations on its list pose “a reduced risk to the public health of UK citizens”.

Foreign countries & territories from which people won’t need to quarantine on arrival in England
(PA Graphics)

The quarantine requirement will be lifted for people returning to or visiting England from July 10.

Passengers will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in England.

But Labour branded the measures a “mess” and said the Government’s failure to negotiate air bridges was “an indictment of their failure to tackle the crisis at home”.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon added: “Labour – like families and businesses up and down the country – are keen for the Government’s quarantine measures to be lessened, but this a mess.

“First we had the quarantine that they were slow to implement, then they said they’d do air bridges. Now we see a plan to let residents of 60 or more countries into England without any reciprocal arrangements.

“The fact they have been unable to negotiate air bridges is an indictment of their failure to tackle the crisis at home.”

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said the new announcement had left millions of people with no clarity on whether their holiday could go ahead or not.

He added: “The Government’s attempt to relax international travel restrictions has been a complete mess, leaving millions of people with no clarity over whether their holiday can go ahead and less chance of getting their money back if they can’t go.

“If the Government is to have any hope of getting travel back up and running, it must urgently provide clear and coherent guidance on foreign travel to remedy the mass confusion caused so far.”

The UK Government was unable to convince the devolved administrations to sign off on the plan before it was made public.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged there are “obvious practical reasons” for alignment on the issue but criticised the “shifting sands” of the UK policy.

She said: “When so much is at stake as it is right now, we can’t allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government’s shambolic decision-making process.”

Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford described dealing with the UK Government over the last few days as “an utterly shambolic experience”.

He went on: “Day after day, we have attempted to get a sensible answer from the UK Government on how they intend to make these changes, which countries they intend to extend the arrangements to, and I just have to say it’s been an impossible experience to follow.”

The 14-day self-isolation policy for UK arrivals – bar a handful of exemptions – was introduced on June 8.

It was met with fierce criticism over the impact on the UK’s travel, tourism and hospitality industries.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency and member of the Quash Quarantine campaign group, said: “It’s an extensive list which will help many people who have holidays already booked.

“Let’s hope some on the list relax their own restrictions soon so as to enable the travel economy to restart and recover successfully.”

But Noel Josephides, chairman of tour operator Sunvil, told the PA news agency that the omission of Portugal from the UK’s quarantine-free list will “kill their peak season”.

He went on: “A lot of hotels are going to close, there’s going to be considerable unemployment because of it, and it’s totally unnecessary.”

Mr Josephides said the impact on large tour operators such as Tui and Jet2 will be “quite serious”.

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