The UK on Friday allowed quarantine-free international travel to nearly 60 “lower risk countries”, excluding India and the US, as it released a list of exempt nations posing “a reduced risk” from the deadly coronavirus.
The UK Foreign Office Travel Advisory related to India remains unchanged as part of its wider advice for British nationals to avoid “all non-essential international travel”.
India and the US are among the countries excluded from the list of nearly 60 low-risk countries.
The list containing countries posing “a reduced risk” from the deadly coronavirus includes European destinations of Germany, France, Spain and Italy as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Some of the Asian countries considered low risk include Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, with popular holiday destinations in the Caribbean as well as Mauritius and the Seychelles also making the UK’s travel corridor cut.
“Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation. Whether you are a holidaymaker ready to travel abroad or a business eager to open your doors again, this is good news for British people and great news for British businesses,” said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“The entire nation has worked tirelessly to get to this stage, therefore safety must remain our watch word and we will not hesitate to move quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in countries we are reconnecting with,” the minister said.
Under COVID-19 lockdown related rules brought in last month, most travellers from any part of the world coming into the UK currently have to self-isolate, or quarantine, for two weeks.
The new measures, which will come into force from July 10, mean that people arriving from selected green or amber zone destinations will be able to enter England without needing to self-isolate, unless they have been in or transited through non-exempt countries in the preceding 14 days.
The devolved administrations will set out their own approach to exemptions, and so passengers returning to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could be subject to slightly different quarantine rules until they confirm their travel strategies to control the spread of coronavirus.
The UK government said its expectation is that a number of the exempted countries will also not require arrivals from the UK to self-isolate. This will mean that holidaymakers or business travellers travelling to and from certain destinations will not need to self-isolate on either leg of their journey.
The exempted countries and territories will be kept under constant review, so that if the health risks increase self-isolation measures can be re-introduced to help stop the spread of the disease into England, the Department for Transport said.
The UK Foreign Office is also set to change its blanket advice against all non-essential foreign travel from Saturday and make it more region-specific in line with the traffic light system.
The transport ministry said the graded travel system follows a risk assessment has been conducted by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, in close consultation with Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer.
The assessment draws on a range of factors including the prevalence of coronavirus, the numbers of new cases and potential trajectory of the disease in that destination.
According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the contagion has infected over 10 million people and killed more than 521,000 across the world.
The US is the worst affected country with over 2.7 million cases and more than 1,28,000 deaths. The UK has over 285,000 cases with more than 44,000 fatalities.
The COVID-19, which originated in China’s Wuhan city in December last year, has also battered the world economy with the International Monetary Fund saying that the global economy is bound to suffer a “severe recession”.
Scientists are racing against time to find a vaccine or medicine for its treatment.