English holidaymakers will be free to travel to France, Spain, Italy and Germany without facing a 14-day quarantine from next week, Grant Shapps announced on Thursday night.
The Transport Secretary will publish a list of more than 60 countries on Friday where the Government proposes to abandon its quarantine policy and open up the borders to free travel.
They will be rated under a traffic-light system with travellers to the lowest coronavirus risk “green” countries facing no quarantine on their return to the UK, although they may face restrictions in those nations.
They include countries like Australia and New Zealand, which have closed their borders after bringing Covid-19 under control.
In a second group of “amber” rated countries including France and Spain, the Government has negotiated reciprocal arrangements so that English holidaymakers are not required to quarantine on either leg of their journey.
The Foreign Office will ditch its advice banning non-essential travel on Saturday allowing people to take holidays overseas with regular travel insurance policies. But the lifting of quarantine has been delayed from Monday to Friday. The number of countries was also cut from 75 to around 60 at the last minute.
A red list of countries where the Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel will remain in force includes the USA, Brazil, Mexico and Sweden. Portugal is also at risk of being included on that list after an outbreak of Covid-19 in and around Lisbon.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have opted out of the nationwide scheme and will only lift quarantine for “green” rated countries amid concerns that international arrivals from “amber” countries including France and Spain could risk spreading the disease.
Scottish and Northern Irish holidaymakers resident in the two countries will therefore be required to quarantine for 14 days on their return from “amber” countries even if they fly from English airports.