UK Looks to Lift Quarantine Restrictions for 75 Countries

According to BBC News, the United Kingdom (U.K.) is preparing to simply scrap its recently-implemented quarantine policy for travelers from as many as 75 countries, government sources reportedly implied.

The two-week quarantine rule, placed on international arrivals coming from anywhere apart from the Republic of Ireland, went into effect on June 8 amid plenty of criticism at its late-stage implementation and potentially devasting effect on the U.K. economy.

Whereas previously plans had been discussed to establish “air bridges” and “travel bubbles” in hopes of salvaging the summer vacation season for select tourist populations, it seems that route was fraught with obstacles, and ministers are now ready to abandon quarantine measures altogether for dozens of countries judged to be “low” or “very low” risk for COVID-19 transmission.

As part of its approach to relaxing restrictions on travel abroad, the government will categorize foreign countries as either “green”, “amber” or “red”, according to their current levels of contagion. Higher-risk countries, including the United States, which are ranked “red” will definitely be denied entry.

Policy changes would go into effect on Monday, July 6—less than four weeks into the controversial, blanket-style restrictions were applied. An approved list of countries from which the U.K. will accept inbound travelers sans quarantine is expected to be announced by the end of this week.

Reuters reported that a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “As we set out earlier this week…we will be easing health measures at the border by allowing passengers arriving from specific countries and territories to be exempted from self-isolation requirements,” and confirmed that the new policy’s next steps are set to be laid out later this week.

On June 26, the Foreign Office confirmed that travelers from France, Greece and Spain would be welcomed without the need to quarantine. The British government will also reportedly scrap its ban on non-essential travel to nearly all destinations with the European Union (E.U.); British territories like Bermuda and Gibraltar; and Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.

“We will provide this announcement as soon as it is safe,” said Simon Clarke, a junior housing, communities and local government minister. “Clearly we want to get the tourism sector back on its feet as quickly as we can and I’m sure that we will be able to give good news in the near future.”

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