Air bridges with European countries given "green light"

LNW-GW Joint

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It's not just "holidays".
There are plenty of homeowners wanting to return to places like Spain, Portugal, Italy etc.
And business travel is key to the wider European economy.
Somehow we must get travel going again for all sorts of reasons.
But currently we are in a "stay local" mindset, at least in Wales, coupled with a "keep out" message for tourists.
 
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Bletchleyite

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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).
Theatres can open, they just can't do live performances which negates the point. Their economics are also shakier than cinemas, needing to be fairly full to make money, whereas cinemas operate at well under 50% capacity most of the time, only really being busy for a premiere or Saturday night, which will have something to do with the rather different staffing requirements.

The issue with live performances is that the performers can't distance (unless it's a single-actor performance) and people projecting their voice (e.g. singing) seem to cause serious spread.

New thread here to continue if people want: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/why-can-cinemas-open-but-not-theatres.205912/
 

Smidster

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This goes against my typical politics but I am actually in two minds about this.

On a personal level I would be very happy to travel - I assess the risk is currently low and so have absolutely no concerns about the act of travelling (though with masks etc it would be a pretty miserable experience) and you can't be sure what will be open at the other end.

I do however think we are wasting our natural advantage that comes with being an island. We believe that the virus was seeded across the UK with people coming back from Half-Term holidays and while infection rates are low in Europe right now that could change.

Given the choice I would much prefer to be NZ - closed borders but no internal restrictions sounds better than a week in Barcelona but coupled with this torturous existence we have right now. Of course it would decimate tourism but might have spared the rest of the economy. I know it is too late for this approach as the disease is firmly embedded but we can look on with envy.
 

duncanp

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It is reported by the BBC that Wales and Scotland are "deciding whether to implement the measures" proposed by the UK government with regard to air bridges, and that ministers in Scotland said it was "disappointing" that the announcement was made before all four UK nations held discussions.


So if the UK government decides to implement air bridges in England, how are the Welsh and Scottish governments going to impose quarantine on arrivals from the affected countries at Scottish and Welsh airports and ports, given that the UK government is responsible for border controls.

And even if they could, there is nothing to stop people in Scotland and Wales travelling to an English airport, port or railway station.

Travel companies say holiday bookings have "exploded" after the government announced current restrictions will be eased.

Ministers said from 6 July, blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel will be relaxed in the UK.

Holidaymakers will be allowed to travel to certain European countries without having to spend 14 days in quarantine upon their return.

A spokesperson for TUI said the move was a "hugely positive step forward".

"We've already seen bookings increase by 50% this week, versus last [week], with holidays to Spain and Greece looking the most popular this summer," said Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland.

Lastminute.com said it experienced an 80% increase on holiday sales compared to last week, largely attributed to the announcement of Spain lifting the quarantine for Brits.

The list of travel corridors with the UK is due to be published next week and is expected to include Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Turkey, Germany and Norway - but not Portugal or Sweden.

It comes as it was announced a further 100 people had died from the virus in the UK, with a further 890 people testing positive, as of 27 June.

'Traffic light system'
John Keefe, director of public affairs at Eurotunnel, said phones had been "ringing off the hook".

Eurotunnel saw an increase of bookings weeks ago, suggesting that many holidaymakers had already started to "discount the quarantine measures", said Mr Keefe - but bookings "exploded" when the announcement was made on Friday.

Foreign Office advice against all but essential international travel has been in place since 17 March.

Under the new rules, a traffic light system will be introduced - with countries classified as green, amber or red depending on the prevalence of coronavirus. The UK is likely to discuss arrangements with countries over the coming days.

A government spokesman said measures would give people "the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad" while also boosting the UK economy - but stressed the relaxation depended on risks staying low.

The government said it "wouldn't hesitate to put on the brakes" if the situation changes.

While the UK government is responsible for border controls, the Scottish and Welsh governments say that public health and the response to the pandemic are devolved matters.

Both warned they had yet to decide to implement the measures.

Ministers in Scotland said it was "disappointing" that the announcement was made before all four UK nations held discussions.

Tourism businesses in Wales are not due to reopen until 13 July, a week after the travel restrictions are due to ease elsewhere.

In a statement, it said: "The Welsh Government continues to explore the UK Government's proposals for Air Bridges and awaits confirmation of a four-nation ministerial meeting to discuss the issue further."

airport
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Portugal has seen a rise in the number of new cases in and around Lisbon recently, while Sweden is also unlikely to be on the list because the infection rate there is higher than in the UK. They are both likely to be classified as red.

But 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.

UK travellers will still have to hand over the address they plan to stay at on their return from abroad, no matter which country they are coming back from. And they will also be legally required to wear face coverings on planes and ferries.
 

Scrotnig

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It is reported by the BBC that Wales and Scotland are "deciding whether to implement the measures" proposed by the UK government with regard to air bridges, and that ministers in Scotland said it was "disappointing" that the announcement was made before all four UK nations held discussions.


So if the UK government decides to implement air bridges in England, how are the Welsh and Scottish governments going to impose quarantine on arrivals from the affected countries at Scottish and Welsh airports and ports, given that the UK government is responsible for border controls.

And even if they could, there is nothing to stop people in Scotland and Wales travelling to an English airport, port or railway station.
You know what they really want....they want the ability to control their own external borders, and the ability to close the internal borders. Or more specifically, to keep the English out.

The Welsh actually let that slip some weeks ago before rowing back.
 

duncanp

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You know what they really want....they want the ability to control their own external borders, and the ability to close the internal borders. Or more specifically, to keep the English out.

The Welsh actually let that slip some weeks ago before rowing back.
That will be interesting at Knighton, where most of the town is in Powys, on the Welsh side of the border, whereas the station is in Shropshire, on the English side of the border.
 

Richard Scott

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It is reported by the BBC that Wales and Scotland are "deciding whether to implement the measures" proposed by the UK government with regard to air bridges, and that ministers in Scotland said it was "disappointing" that the announcement was made before all four UK nations held discussions.


So if the UK government decides to implement air bridges in England, how are the Welsh and Scottish governments going to impose quarantine on arrivals from the affected countries at Scottish and Welsh airports and ports, given that the UK government is responsible for border controls.

And even if they could, there is nothing to stop people in Scotland and Wales travelling to an English airport, port or railway station.
It's interesting that the Scottish and Welsh Governments wanted a part in the discussion in this yet in every other decision they want to go their own way.
 

Bantamzen

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I do however think we are wasting our natural advantage that comes with being an island. We believe that the virus was seeded across the UK with people coming back from Half-Term holidays and while infection rates are low in Europe right now that could change.

Given the choice I would much prefer to be NZ - closed borders but no internal restrictions sounds better than a week in Barcelona but coupled with this torturous existence we have right now. Of course it would decimate tourism but might have spared the rest of the economy. I know it is too late for this approach as the disease is firmly embedded but we can look on with envy.
There is of course one glaring problem with the NZ approach. They have been so effective in containing it that they have virtually created their own prison, they will unable to travel or receive visitors for the foreseeable future without long quarantines, because the virus is out there and will remain so for a very long time. Personally I'd rather have short term controlling measures than being stuck in your borders for a long time.
 

Bletchleyite

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There is of course one glaring problem with the NZ approach. They have been so effective in containing it that they have virtually created their own prison, they will unable to travel or receive visitors for the foreseeable future without long quarantines, because the virus is out there and will remain so for a very long time. Personally I'd rather have short term controlling measures than being stuck in your borders for a long time.
I'd rather our borders were fully closed until a vaccine or effective treatment, and we could abandon all social distancing measures myself. Goods can travel without people.

Definitely think NZ got it right in that respect.
 

duncanp

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It also raises the question of whether UK border force officials at Scottish and Welsh airports will be following the rules set by the UK government or the relevant devolved government when deciding whether to quarantine arrivals from the air bridge countries.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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You know what they really want....they want the ability to control their own external borders, and the ability to close the internal borders. Or more specifically, to keep the English out.

The Welsh actually let that slip some weeks ago before rowing back.
It was quite foreseeable that any illusion of the UK still being a union was going to be shattered this year... I just didn't think it would be happening quite this quickly or over something other than Brexit!
 

Richard Scott

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I'd rather our borders were fully closed until a vaccine or effective treatment, and we could abandon all social distancing measures myself. Goods can travel without people.

Definitely think NZ got it right in that respect.
You could be waiting a long time. You carry on and rest of us want to get on with life, life comes with risks and we have to accept that. There is now some effective treatment which works in some cases and NHS is set up to deal with greater numbers than it's seeing but doubt with current infections these greater numbers will happen.
 

duncanp

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I'd rather our borders were fully closed until a vaccine or effective treatment, and we could abandon all social distancing measures myself. Goods can travel without people.

Definitely think NZ got it right in that respect.
The issue with closing the borders is that we don't know when, or indeed if, a vaccine or effective treatment will be available.

In the meantime, those parts of the economy that rely on tourism will be severely damaged or destroyed, which will have consequences for everyone, even if you never go abroad.

Also, I don't think the infrastructure in the UK can cope with everyone holidaying at home, as evidenced by the scenes on Bournemouth beach. Some of those people there would have been abroad if they had been allowed to go.
 

Scrotnig

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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?
I'm not suggesting not opening up...far from it....just not sure why everyone's so desperate to go at the first opportunity.
 

Bantamzen

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I'd rather our borders were fully closed until a vaccine or effective treatment, and we could abandon all social distancing measures myself. Goods can travel without people.

Definitely think NZ got it right in that respect.
You might be content sitting put behind the sofa, some people are not.

I'm not suggesting not opening up...far from it....just not sure why everyone's so desperate to go at the first opportunity.
See the various threads on how we are dealing with covid in Blighty, then ask yourself that question again! ;)
 

LNW-GW Joint

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It also raises the question of whether UK border force officials at Scottish and Welsh airports will be following the rules set by the UK government or the relevant devolved government when deciding whether to quarantine arrivals from the air bridge countries.
The devolved govs don't have control over borders or immigration, so UK gov rules apply, even at Cardiff airport (which is owned by Welsh gov).
The local gov can control travel to/from an airport, and local health regulations.
Currently Wales has a 5-mile "recommendation" (not a law), so you theoretically can't reach an English airport at the moment.
There has to be some logical path through this without creating uproar.
 

Smidster

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The issue with closing the borders is that we don't know when, or indeed if, a vaccine or effective treatment will be available.

In the meantime, those parts of the economy that rely on tourism will be severely damaged or destroyed, which will have consequences for everyone, even if you never go abroad.

Also, I don't think the infrastructure in the UK can cope with everyone holidaying at home, as evidenced by the scenes on Bournemouth beach. Some of those people there would have been abroad if they had been allowed to go.
I don't think myself or Bletcheyite are suggesting "hiding behind the sofa" - the idea would be that yes you completely close your borders but in return you can get the disease to a point where you can remove all other restrictions - no social distancing required, no need to book a slot at the pub / gym and crowds at sports events.

Would it hammer some businesses? Yes, but on the flip side perhaps you save many of the others that the current restrictions are going to kill of which seems to be the worst of all worlds.

Is it risky? For sure - you are banking on a vaccine which isn't guaranteed but I know I would prefer it to how we are living, or to be no precise existing, now.

As for what happened in Bournemouth firstly the mass of people wouldn't be a problem - had the last few months not happened would that have registered with anyone? Secondly the restrictions mean that the normal tourist infrastructure is broken - if you had no restrictions then people would be going to cafes, bars and other attractions. Because everything is closed, or heavily limited, everyone is forced to the beach.
 

Starmill

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Given the choice I would much prefer to be NZ - closed borders but no internal restrictions sounds better than a week in Barcelona but coupled with this torturous existence we have right now.
Would it? The UK has one of the largest travel and tourism balance of payments deficits in the rich world. This means approximately twice as much money is spent abroad by British residents as visitors from abroad spend while in Britain.

Obviously the NZ approach would have other serious consequences e.g. families split up, but they can still get in if they follow the most stringent 14 day isolation.

Overall being able to holiday in Spain absolutely doesn't seem a price worth paying for living in domestic purgatory for nearly four months to me!
 

Starmill

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You know what they really want....they want the ability to control their own external borders, and the ability to close the internal borders. Or more specifically, to keep the English out.

The Welsh actually let that slip some weeks ago before rowing back.
In a few more weeks Scotland could have the virus eliminated. It's currently running at a very low level. Not too far off in Northern Ireland either

Of course, because Scotland can't close its border with England, a country where there are still thousands of new infections daily, and where numbers aren't falling, they will keep re-seeding the virus into the Scottish population.
 

Scrotnig

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In a few more weeks Scotland could have the virus eliminated. It's currently running at a very low level. Not too far off in Northern Ireland either

Of course, because Scotland can't close its border with England, a country where there are still thousands of new infections daily, and where numbers aren't falling, they will keep re-seeding the virus into the Scottish population.
Well there's two points there...

1. England has vastly larger population than Scotland
2. The English figures ARE falling

Whether point 2 remains the case has yet to be seen. I personally feel the pub re-openings are about a month too soon. And I'm actually all in favour of getting things open again.
 

Richard Scott

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In a few more weeks Scotland could have the virus eliminated. It's currently running at a very low level. Not too far off in Northern Ireland either

Of course, because Scotland can't close its border with England, a country where there are still thousands of new infections daily, and where numbers aren't falling, they will keep re-seeding the virus into the Scottish population.
Unless it isolates itself from rest of the world this will happen. We are going to have to learn to live with this. Some of us seem to have realised this sooner than others. We can't eliminate it, it may disappear of its own accord but won't be due to human efforts. A lot of us like to travel, have a desire to do so and that is that. In addition my sister lives in Scotland so that means I not rest of family can see her because of some fear about this virus?
 

Jamesrob637

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As a keen flyer, but traveller in general, I think I'll give these air bridges a miss for now and use land transport only. My CO2 footprint will be down and I've already flown 4 times between the 14th of January and the 10th of March 2020.

Noel Philips' latest video was enough to put me off flying for now!
 

duncanp

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And now Nicola Sturgeon is being asked to consider quarantining visitors from England.



Nicola Sturgeon should examine introducing quarantine for English visitors to Scotland if the number of coronavirus cases south of the Border rises, one of her most trusted advisers has said.
Prof Devi Sridhar, who has played a key role in helping Ms Sturgeon formulate her Covid-19 strategy, said Scotland was trying to eliminate the virus but England's strategy was to "reopen as soon as possible" despite having up to 6,000 new daily cases.
She predicted Scotland could eliminate coronavirus by the end of the summer if the decline in new cases continues. There were no more deaths reported in Scotland on Sunday, for the third day running.

This meant it would be "really straightforward" for Scotland to become Covid-free if it was an island like New Zealand, she said, but instead "we have to find the next best solution."
In particular, she advised "catching those cases through screening, through quarantine, through testing" and cited checks US states with low Covid-19 transmission have introduced for people from those with high rates.
Visitors from nine US states with "significant community spread" will soon have to quarantine for 14 days if they travel to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, it was announced last week.
The policy will affect those travelling from Florida, Arizona and Texas, where more than 5,000 new cases were recorded in a single day last week.

But any such quarantine policy would likely face fierce opposition from the beleaguered Scottish tourism industry, for which English 'staycation' visitors are vital, businesses operating on both sides of the Border and Scots with family in England.
The Scottish Government said it would "continue to consider any measures that might be necessary to protect against the risk of imported cases of the virus."
Senior SNP sources said they could not rule out a quarantine system from England, but ministers were not planning to introduce one.
Instead, they said people living in areas of England subject to any "local lockdowns" after a surge in cases would be asked not to travel to Scotland.
Prof Sridhar, an Edinburgh University public health academic, is one of the most influential members of the Scottish Government's Covid-19 advisory group.
On Friday Ms Sturgeon said Scotland was edging towards "total elimination" of Covid-19 after no new deaths were recorded on a weekday for the first time since March.
Asked what she meant, Prof Sridhar told BBC Scotland's Sunday Politics programme "a zero Covid Scotland, which means there's no acceptable level of number of cases and they get driven down to become negligible so we get the economy going and society going."
She cited the strategy adopted in countries like New Zealand, where "you get rid of community transmission and you just keep in place checks for any imported cases coming in, which might set off chains of infection."
The academic said this was not the strategy being adopted in England, where she estimated there are between 5,000 and 6,000 new daily cases.
Acknowledging the English strategy will not change before July 15, when Scottish hotels and tourist attractions reopen, she said: "The next best thing is to look across the world at Australia, Germany, even the United States.
"Look at the policies being put in place between states which have high incidence like Texas and Florida, and those with low incidence now like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and trying to find ways whether it's quarantine or other checks to make sure when there are clear differences in incidence, then you make sure you are catching those cases through screening, through quarantine, through testing."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "To allow us to move out of lockdown it is critical that we keep transmission of the virus as low as possible – and that includes transmission from high to low risk areas.
"We are, in common with countries across the world, having to take unprecedented steps to deal with the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic brings."
 

Starmill

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Unless it isolates itself from rest of the world this will happen. We are going to have to learn to live with this. Some of us seem to have realised this sooner than others. We can't eliminate it, it may disappear of its own accord but won't be due to human efforts. A lot of us like to travel, have a desire to do so and that is that. In addition my sister lives in Scotland so that means I not rest of family can see her because of some fear about this virus?
I was merely pointing out that it's actually not that difficult to eliminate the virus when you live on an island. This means that there's no social distancing needed, only travel quarentines. The UK government has never had this as its policy but this is definitely the best option in terms of economic costs.
 

Starmill

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As a keen flyer, but traveller in general, I think I'll give these air bridges a miss for now and use land transport only. My CO2 footprint will be down and I've already flown 4 times between the 14th of January and the 10th of March 2020.

Noel Philips' latest video was enough to put me off flying for now!
I don't think the term "air bridge" actually has anything to do with aviation? I think it represents a metaphorical link that goes over countries that aren't "approved" and only connects between countries that are "approved".
 

Silverlinky

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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.
I didn't say we had made a success of it, I just pointed out that the post which said we had the highest infection rates in Europe was factually incorrect. We don't and we didn't.

As for 60000+ dead.....again, and we've argued about this in pretty much every thread, is every country counting the same? Our official figure is 43,514 (as of yesterday) and if you think that someone like Russia which has twice as many confirmed cases as the UK, but only one fifth of our death toll is counting in the same way then fair enough. Or how about India, over 200000 more cases but 27000 fewer deaths? Really?

Sweden....ahh yes, the "role model" for everyone.....no lockdown needed etc..... 6,450 cases per million of population, we've had 4,570 per million.
 

Djgr

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In a few more weeks Scotland could have the virus eliminated. It's currently running at a very low level. Not too far off in Northern Ireland either

Of course, because Scotland can't close its border with England, a country where there are still thousands of new infections daily, and where numbers aren't falling, they will keep re-seeding the virus into the Scottish population.
Thousands is totally misleading. It is circa 2,000 per day and that is for the WHOLE of the United Kingdom.
 

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