Air bridges with European countries given "green light"

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"Tourists from Britain will be able to fly to selected destinations from 29th June under new air bridge schemes. From next week a series of European countries will be open to UK travellers as the Foriegn Office declares them safe due to the low risk of COVID-19. These include France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Greece, Belgium, The Netherlands, Gibraltar, Bermuda and possibly Portugal. Until these destinations are declared safe, all foreign travel has been advised against by the Foreign Office during the lockdown. Furthermore from 8th June travellers entering the UK barring a small group of exceptions have had to quarantine for 14 day. However as countries emerge from the pandemic, the government has negotiated bilateral agreements which allow for safe travel corridors between nations. These so-called ‘air bridges’ will only be agreed between countries with a test and trace system for coronavirus at the same standard as the UK, as well as having a low rate of COVID-19 infections."
So what does everyone think?
 
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Mag_seven

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Positive development but I don't like the term "air bridge" implying that flying is the only way you can get to those destinations.
 
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Positive development but I don't like the term "air bridge" implying that flying is the only way you can get to those destinations.
I think you have a good point. Especially if France is part of the air bridges agreement, you might as well abolish quarantine for Ferries and Eurostar too.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I like the Greek response: they will have to agree that UK travellers are safe to be let in - quarantine rules work both ways, and our infection rate is poorer than in most of the EU .
And wait till we exclude the USA from the "bridge" list...
Meanwhile Australia (low infection rate) says it won't open its borders till next year, anyway.
 
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ForTheLoveOf

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I think you have a good point. Especially if France is part of the air bridges agreement, you might as well abolish quarantine for Ferries and Eurostar too.
"Air bridges" is intended as a metaphor here; there has been no suggestion that these easements will depend on your method of entry to the UK.
 
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"Air bridges" is intended as a metaphor here; there has been no suggestion that these easements will depend on your method of entry to the UK.
Although, it's official that air bridges are now happening. They will begin from the 6th of July. Kind of surprising they didn't start on the 4th of July like the rest of easing of restrictions.

Also, sorry for the off topic, it's quite funny they chose to ease all the restrictions (apart from abolishing quarantine from some European countries) on the 4th of July. Anyone guess why?

EDIT: According to the BBC, 6th of July is when the air bridges start, and not the 29th of June as thought by The Sun.
 

Chester1

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I like the Greek response: they will have to agree that UK travellers are safe to be let in - quarantine rules work both ways, and our infection rate is poorer than in most of the EU .
And wait till we exclude the USA from the "bridge" list...
Meanwhile Australia (low infection rate) says it won't open its borders till next year, anyway.
Greece is broke and heavily reliant on tourism. At most it will slightly delay entry of Brits. The Greek tourism minister said today Brits will be allowed in a few days to 3 weeks. The UK media picked the longest date of course!

Australia "air bridge" is about allowing essential travel with quarantining only in Australia. Its likely Australia will open its borders before end of year but with compulsory quarantine in government facilities for 14 days (at own expense unless for compassionate reasons). That will kill of nearly all travel but what is left is important and 14 days quarantine in the UK is pointless. Our government will demand equal treatment of Australians and Brits but not mirrored procedures. Australia actually bans citizens from leaving apart from in very specific circumstances, they will need to allow Brits in for the same reasons as Australians are allowed to leave if they loosen rules. That is reciprocal one sense, with the 14 day quarantine at opposite ends of a trip for Brits and Australians.
 

JonathanH

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While I note that the prevalence of Covid-19 is less in these countries than here, what of the risk of

a) people infected in this country exporting the disease and then coming into proximity and infecting other people whilst on holiday

b) someone from a high infection country travelling to the UK via the country we have an 'air bridge' to

c) arrangements at airports for people arriving from different countries to prevent cross infection.

Perhaps it is no more of a risk than other types of bugs caught when travelling.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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a) people infected in this country exporting the disease and then coming into proximity and infecting other people whilst on holiday
Quite possible, but it is a matter for each country to decide who they will let in. If they decide they are letting arrivals from the UK in without quarantine, that's their decision and their risk.

b) someone from a high infection country travelling to the UK via the country we have an 'air bridge' to
It's a possibility but the government will already have some kind of reciprocal arrangement for border entry data sharing with other countries. I would be surprised if that data is not going to be used to try and avoid people circumventing the air bridges.

But even if there is no control whatsoever on that aspect of things, the mere fact that the government announced something means that the majority of people will comply - c.f. the "essential journeys only" message. So the overall risk of infections from non air bridge countries is minimal. Indeed there are plenty of countries where the risk of importing cases is practically zero (e.g. New Zealand), and yet we haven't introduced air bridges to them, so I wouldn't read too much into it.

c) arrangements at airports for people arriving from different countries to prevent cross infection.
Practically nil risk, so long as border queues are kept within acceptable limits, and social distancing measures are applied. This may require the reopening of e-gates, which I understand have been shut down for the duration of the pandemic to allow manual checking.
 

Chester1

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While I note that the prevalence of Covid-19 is less in these countries than here, what of the risk of

a) people infected in this country exporting the disease and then coming into proximity and infecting other people whilst on holiday

b) someone from a high infection country travelling to the UK via the country we have an 'air bridge' to

c) arrangements at airports for people arriving from different countries to prevent cross infection.

Perhaps it is no more of a risk than other types of bugs caught when travelling.
A) Its a risk and its upto governments to weigh up the economic and health factors. For our government it is safer to allow Brits to go abroad to selected countries because our domestic tourist industry won't be able to cope with demand otherwise.

B) The law will be the same as with travel via Ireland now. The burden of evidence will be on the individual to prove they have stayed within exempt countries rather than the police to prove they haven't. If they can't prove it then they will have to quarantine or face prosecution.

C) I guess it will be 1m+ social distancing and other arrangements depending on facilities at each airport.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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B) The law will be the same as with travel via Ireland now. The burden of evidence will be on the individual to prove they have stayed within exempt countries rather than the police to prove they haven't. If they can't prove it then they will have to quarantine or face prosecution.
I'm not sure where you have that notion from. Nowhere in the Regulations is the criminal burden of proof, which falls on the prosecutor/authorities by default, reversed.

Now, of course, the police may threaten prosecution if you don't quarantine, but that doesn't by any means force you to prove anything to them. It is for them to prove that you have committed an offence, by proving your presence outside the Common Travel Area (or, as will soon be the case, the 'air bridge' list of countries).

It would be an extraordinary imposition, tantamount to abolition of the CTA (with all the implications this carries), to require people who have travelled from one part of the CTA to another to prove their whereabouts in the last 14 days. Not to mention the huge civil liberties implications, if you were deemed to be committing an offence just because you didn't have evidence of your whereabouts in the last 14 days.
 

yorkie

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...The burden of evidence will be on the individual to prove they have stayed within exempt countries rather than the police to prove they haven't. If they can't prove it then they will have to quarantine or face prosecution....
Do you have evidence of this?

Here is evidence to the contrary:
....the government spokesman conceded there would be nothing to stop someone avoiding quarantine by flying into a Spanish airport, driving over the border into Portugal for their holiday and returning by the same route.
 

Chester1

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I'm not sure where you have that notion from. Nowhere in the Regulations is the criminal burden of proof, which falls on the prosecutor/authorities by default, reversed.

Now, of course, the police may threaten prosecution if you don't quarantine, but that doesn't by any means force you to prove anything to them. It is for them to prove that you have committed an offence, by proving your presence outside the Common Travel Area (or, as will soon be the case, the 'air bridge' list of countries).

It would be an extraordinary imposition, tantamount to abolition of the CTA (with all the implications this carries), to require people who have travelled from one part of the CTA to another to prove their whereabouts in the last 14 days. Not to mention the huge civil liberties implications, if you were deemed to be committing an offence just because you didn't have evidence of your whereabouts in the last 14 days.
Do you have evidence of this?

Here is evidence to the contrary:
It's not as strict as I thought. It appears it is only the case if you admit to being out of the CTA for some of the last 14 days and therefore are requesting a partial exemption to the quarantine. When people lie the burden is of course on the prosecution but for being granted an exemption if a passenger admits to having been outside of CTA in last 14 days then it's on the individual to prove when they re-entered it.

I think its reasonable to assume that the government will make it mandatory for arrivals from outside the CTA to fill in the passenger locator form because it is certain they have been outside the CTA within 14 days. This puts someone dodging the restrictions in the position of committing a criminal offence of lieing on the locator form and hoping they aren't caught out by international policing and border co-operation. The government could adopt the rules for Ireland for "air bridge" countries but why would it?


If you are arriving from within the Common Travel Area (CTA) and have been in the CTA for the last 14 days before entering the UK, you will not need to complete the Public Health passenger locator form or self-isolate for 14 days.

If you are arriving from another part of the CTA and entered the CTA within the last 14 days, you’ll need to complete the Public Health passenger locator form. You’ll only have to self-isolate until you have spent a total of 14 days in the CTA.

You can show details of recent travel into the CTA, such as a boarding pass or itinerary, to help confirm whether you entered the CTA in the last 14 days and how long you have spent in the CTA in total.
 

Glenn1969

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These air bridges are being done because the travel industry put pressure on Priti Patel to end the quarantine scheme and the likes of Ryanair and BA threatened to sue over it. Do some of these countries actually want Brits given we still have the highest infection rates in Europe?
 

johnnychips

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These air bridges are being done because the travel industry put pressure on Priti Patel to end the quarantine scheme and the likes of Ryanair and BA threatened to sue over it. Do some of these countries actually want Brits given we still have the highest infection rates in Europe?
Yes.

They need tourists. I speculatively booked a hotel in Barcelona about a month ago, with a ‘cancel up to July the 12th option’ for about €650, rather than ‘pay now and chance it‘ for €600. It cost me €650 for thirteen days rather than the €600 it cost for seven days, same hotel, three years ago. Same sort of thing with the flights: £145 with Ryanair, which I booked four days ago including bags etc, compared with about £250 three years ago.

Considering there is about a 1 in 1200 to 1 in 4000 chance of having CV (depending what figures you read), it seems to be a risk they are prepared to take. That means there will be on average one person with CV who arrives on six to twenty-one planeloads, and assumes that people with symptoms try to travel. I am not sure if there will be temperature screening at either the departure or arrival airports, or both; but if there is that would reduce the risk further.
 
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Chester1

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These air bridges are being done because the travel industry put pressure on Priti Patel to end the quarantine scheme and the likes of Ryanair and BA threatened to sue over it. Do some of these countries actually want Brits given we still have the highest infection rates in Europe?
Yes. Why is that so difficult for people to understand? We can already enter Italy and Spain without restrictions. Most of southern europe heavily relies on tourism and Brits are a big part of it. The Greek tourist sector is equivalent in relative size of GDP (20%) as manufacturing is in Germany. Portugal, Spain and Italy are close behind and in Malta is a whopping 25% of GDP. 1.5% of Portuguese GDP is from British tourism alone. Its not just about this year. Many people holiday habitually, if they are forced to go somewhere new this summer they are less likely to return to previous destinations of choice.
 

Puffing Devil

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Go on vacation. Contract or take the virus with you. What happens when it's time to come home and you fail the airport temperature checks?
 

Silverlinky

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These air bridges are being done because the travel industry put pressure on Priti Patel to end the quarantine scheme and the likes of Ryanair and BA threatened to sue over it. Do some of these countries actually want Brits given we still have the highest infection rates in Europe?
Depends what you mean by "highest infection rates in Europe"......currently we don't.

There are a number of countries (Portugal, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria to name a few) which have higher current infection rates than the UK.

Overall, since the start of the pandemic we have a lower infection rate than Sweden, Spain, Iceland, Belgium and Ireland (as well as Andorra, San Marino and Luxembourg) per head of population.
 

45107

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Depends what you mean by "highest infection rates in Europe"......currently we don't.

There are a number of countries (Portugal, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria to name a few) which have higher current infection rates than the UK.

Overall, since the start of the pandemic we have a lower infection rate than Sweden, Spain, Iceland, Belgium and Ireland (as well as Andorra, San Marino and Luxembourg) per head of population.
So we have made a success of the pandemic because we have a lower infection rate than some countries ?
We also have a higher infection rate than others.

60000+ dead.

Sweden is hailed as a country we should have followed by other posters on this forum. Spain was one of the 1st European countries affected by the pandemic.
 

jon0844

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These air bridges are being done because the travel industry put pressure on Priti Patel to end the quarantine scheme and the likes of Ryanair and BA threatened to sue over it. Do some of these countries actually want Brits given we still have the highest infection rates in Europe?
Is this also why cinemas are okay to open, but theatres are not? I assume individual theatres, even with adapted seating, weren't quite as powerful at lobbying than the film industry (even though when it comes to films, they can and did put them online for people to watch at home).

It was quite apparent when one pub chain said it would open no matter what that Boris quickly made the necessary changes, but seeing how pubs are adapting I can't really see the fascination in going when they open. Restaurants perhaps, but not pubs - at least drinking indoors.

But, back to travel, if your hotel has a case on a holiday, will you have to stay there for 7 or 14 days? If so, do you have to pay for the extra time? I assume that any holiday booked today won't have cover for Covid-19 related costs in your insurance policy, although I don't know if you can pay extra for such cover?

Makes sense for insurance companies to offer cover as the risk is quite low, but not so low that you'd cover it as standard now the risks are well known and the claims could be very high.

My Greek holiday in May was cancelled and I won't be attempting to re-book until next year.
 

johnnychips

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Go on vacation. Contract or take the virus with you. What happens when it's time to come home and you fail the airport temperature checks?
No idea, but if the infection rate is lower in Spain than here - even less than 1:1200 to 1:4000, then it’s a risk me and countless others will be willing to take.
 

Scrotnig

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I really don’t understand the clamour and urgency.

I have no desire to go on any holiday, home or abroad, in the midst of all this.

Summer 2021 is the very earliest I’d consider it, and to be honest even that depends on how things pan out.
 

jon0844

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I really don’t understand the clamour and urgency.

I have no desire to go on any holiday, home or abroad, in the midst of all this.

Summer 2021 is the very earliest I’d consider it, and to be honest even that depends on how things pan out.
Indeed. I think we will likely seek to book a holiday somewhere in the UK, most likely August, and rent a cottage so we can have a self-contained place for additional peace of mind. That foreign holiday can wait.

Sure, those countries are begging for us to come (and offering great deals) but there seems to be a lot of risk, and the UK is also desperate for money to be spent here.
 

Chester1

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Indeed. I think we will likely seek to book a holiday somewhere in the UK, most likely August, and rent a cottage so we can have a self-contained place for additional peace of mind. That foreign holiday can wait.

Sure, those countries are begging for us to come (and offering great deals) but there seems to be a lot of risk, and the UK is also desperate for money to be spent here.
I would book soon if you intend to rent a cottage in the UK this summer! Even with some people avoiding holidays entirely and few international visitors there will be insufficient capacity to meet demand. Our domestic tourist industry runs at capacity in the summer holidays in a normal year despite most people going abroad.

Those that don't drive but can be dropped off at an airport or take a taxis are better off going abroad until British public transport returns to normal. The risk is lower in most European countries, it just feels safer to stay in the UK. I will be on a plane this summer, I don't fancy British weather, a long distance train journey and then being stuck within walking distance of my hotel or going to a packed beach. A flight to somewhere on the med, to an area with fewer tourists than normal and with better weather is preferable!
 

Starmill

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I don't think it's surprising that the general public want to enjoy a holiday after a period of extreme stress and hardship, although we should all be mindful of those who have been abandoned by the government to financial calamity as a result of the virus - financial assistance was only for the people they thought of. Many hundreds of thousands of people across the country would love to go on holiday but have zero prospect of doing so because they cannot afford to.

However, what I do find bizarre is how much political capital and apparently government time and energy is being spent on all of this. For me, the number one priority is that parents and children have the confidence to return to school after the holidays. Currently the government has made almost no progress. However the education secretary is pretty busy describing layouts of tables where children face one another as wrong so perhaps he's too busy to deal with safety, and perceived safety. Personally I think that spending all this time talking about holidays will do the opposite of convincing parents to send their children back. To put it another way, this is all fine, but it will cause large parts of the country to question priorities. That's the criticism I would make.

A cynic might believe that the Conservative party doesn't have a lot of people lobbying it about schools compared to the travel and tourism industry.
 

jon0844

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I would book soon if you intend to rent a cottage in the UK this summer! Even with some people avoiding holidays entirely and few international visitors there will be insufficient capacity to meet demand. Our domestic tourist industry runs at capacity in the summer holidays in a normal year despite most people going abroad.
It's already looking like it's going to be costly. To be fair, I didn't think anything else. It's always going to cost a fortune in August, and this type of holiday was the least likely to be affected and have people cancel.

If we can get a deal, fine. If not, we'll survive and maybe just do more walks locally and save some money.
 

Bantamzen

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I really don’t understand the clamour and urgency.

I have no desire to go on any holiday, home or abroad, in the midst of all this.

Summer 2021 is the very earliest I’d consider it, and to be honest even that depends on how things pan out.
With all due respect, its not your decision to make. The tourist industry worldwide is a very large one, and many people's livelihoods depend on it. Indeed some country's entire GDPs rely on it. And at the end of the day, why wouldn't people want to get away from these 3 months of madness and enjoy a bit of a change?
 

Butts

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I sincerely hope Luxembourg in included as part of the scheme, my diminishing supply of Benson and Hedges can attest to the fact I need a visit !!
 

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