The Daily Telegraph

Regional ‘air bridges’ could end quarantine

- By Charles Hymas Home Affairs editor

REGIONAL “air bridges” are being considered by the Government to allow travel to countries such as Portugal and the United States and stop entire nations being subject to British quarantine rules.

The transport department has told the industry that regional links are an option to create travel corridors with low-risk areas. Ministers are also exploring plans to test passengers for Covid-19 before or on arrival at British airports to open travel with major trade partners such as the US.

Regional bridges are expected to be part of the second review of quarantine, due on Monday, when Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, will reveal if more destinatio­ns will be added to the 74 countries and territorie­s exempt from the 14-day quarantine. Portugal, which remains banned, has seen its cases fall to 135 a day, the fewest since May 11. The Algarve, Madeira and the Azores are virtually clear but outbreaks in Lisbon have pushed Portugal’s national rate to 45.57 cases per 100,000, above the rate for a national air bridge.

Spain has been hit by outbreaks in Catalonia, Aragon and the Basque Country pushing cases to 4,581, the highest since April and a national rate of 27.39 cases per 100,000.

Cases of coronaviru­s in Spain have tripled in the past three weeks as more new infections are linked to young people going to parties, health authoritie­s have said.

“Regional air bridges are an option for countries with localised outbreaks,” said a source. “The US is a major issue. If you judge it nationally, the absence of travel could go on for months, which is where individual testing of arrivals could work.”

Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said: “We need to see only regional border measures so that the recovery of a country’s whole economy is not jeopardise­d in future.”

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, and some of the world’s biggest airlines have written to Mr Shapps urging a joint US-EU Covid-19 testing programme for passengers to enable transatlan­tic travel to resume.

‘We need to see only regional measures so the recovery of a country’s whole economy is not jeopardise­d’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom