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Travel to be discussed in meeting between UK and France this week, says PM

Boris Johnson said he will be talking to French President Emmanuel Macron about safe travel between the two countries.


Air bridges will be announced by the end of June, Grant Shapps has indicated (Steve Parsons/PA)

Air bridges will be announced by the end of June, Grant Shapps has indicated (Steve Parsons/PA)

Air bridges will be announced by the end of June, Grant Shapps has indicated (Steve Parsons/PA)

Travel between the UK and France will be raised in a meeting between the two countries this week, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister said he will be talking to French president Emmanuel Macron about how people can move safely between the two countries when Mr Macron comes to Britain on Thursday.

He also reiterated that air bridges, enabling holidaymakers to travel overseas without entering self-isolation when they return, were being considered.

It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps indicated that the Government is “actively working” on introducing travel corridors, to help the struggling tourism industry.

Speaking at Tuesday’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said: “Obviously I will be talking to Emmanuel Macron about all sorts of ways in which we can bring our countries together, making sure that eventually we will be able to travel freely to and from each other’s countries.

“The same goes obviously for Spain, as soon as we can.

“The reason for having the quarantine system is very simple – we don’t want to re-import the disease just at the moment when we’ve really got it under control in this country.

“But we’re certainly looking at air bridges and ways to ensure that people can safely go on holiday eventually.”

Most international arrivals into the UK are required to go into self-isolation for 14 days, while in France, a two-week quarantine is currently in place for UK visitors.

Air bridges would allow travellers arriving from countries where the risk of being infected by coronavirus is thought to be low, to avoid going into quarantine.

June 29 is the date for the Government’s first review of its controversial quarantine policy, which came into force last week.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Shapps told LBC radio: “We won’t be in a position to announce which countries – where reciprocal arrangements go in place – until the 29th.

“So don’t expect anything this week, I think I’m right in saying it’s only the end of next week.”

All passengers, bar a handful of exemptions, have to fill out an online locator form giving their contact and travel details, as well as the address of where they will isolate.

Mr Shapps said the measure was introduced because “we don’t want to go back to kind of importing (the virus) or Brits going abroad and bringing it back with them”.

A group of more than 500 travel and hospitality businesses campaigning against the policy said last week they had “received private assurances from senior Government sources that travel corridors will be in place from June 29”.

Spain has warned that it may impose its own 14-day quarantine requirement for UK tourists.

Foreign affairs minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the BBC’s Hardtalk programme: “We will be checking what the UK will be doing and we will be in dialogue with the UK to see whether or not we should be introducing reciprocity as they have different measures than the rest of the EU.”

She added: “The health situation … is a little bit better in Spain than it is in the UK.”

This came after Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced over the weekend that tourists from many European nations would be welcome from June 21.

A number of other countries on the continent eased their border restrictions on Monday.

But many have maintained entry restrictions for UK holidaymakers, including:

– France: A 14-day quarantine is in place for UK visitors.

– Greece: Mandatory testing and quarantine for travellers from specific countries such as the UK, the US and Belgium.

– The Netherlands: Tourists from the UK, the EU and Schengen area can visit, but arrivals from the UK and Sweden must go into quarantine.

Destinations that do not require UK holidaymakers to enter quarantine include Belgium, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against non-essential overseas travel since March 17, and given no indication of when this will be changed.

Airline trade body the International Air Transport Association said rapid Covid-19 testing of passengers from countries considered as higher risk could remove the need for “burdensome and intrusive measures such as quarantine”.