UK Eases Quarantine Rules for Some Countries

 - July 3, 2020, 11:14 AM

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

From July 10, the UK government will lift the requirement to remain under a 14-day quarantine at a fixed address for travelers arriving from a list of 59 countries published on Friday. Notably, the list does not include the U.S., Brazil, Russia, and India–all of which now have significantly higher rates of Covid-19 infection than the UK. However, the quarantine will also remain in place for many countries that do have lower rates of infection, including China, the United Arab Emirates, some European countries, including Portugal and Sweden, and the whole of Africa and South America.

As of July 3, the decision only applies to England, and not to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This is because the UK’s four nations operate under a degree of devolved administration and the governments of the latter three countries declined to accept the rule change. This had been promised by the UK government more than a week ago, only for the promised details to be released almost five days after the initial three-week quarantine enforcement period came up for review on June 29. Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the UK’s handling of the situation as “shambolic” and, speaking on condition of anonymity to AIN some in the UK aviation industry echoed this sentiment.

Significantly, Friday’s announcement does not appear to cover the so-called “air bridge” or “travel corridor” arrangements promised by the government. In some cases, countries like Australia and New Zealand do not currently have their borders open to international travelers, Greece has specifically excluded direct flights from the UK and others still require quarantine on arrival. 

In a statement issued several hours before the long-awaited announcement was issued by the UK Department of Transport, UK aerospace industry association ADS broadly welcomed the move. “The reopening of our skies is an important milestone in the recovery of the UK aviation and aerospace sectors from this unprecedented crisis,” commented chief executive Paul Everitt. He urged the government to review the remaining quarantine restrictions, which every other aviation trade group has opposed since they were announced in early June.