Holidays 2020: Summer holiday hopes soar as Grant Shapps reveals plans for ‘air bridges’

British travellers may have been given a lifeline this afternoon after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed that the UK Government is discussing more ideas to make sure people can travel abroad in the future. Mr Shapps revealed in the House of Commons today that “air bridges” could be a future travel option between the UK and low-risk countries. Mr Shapps also revealed that the Government is in “active discussions” over introducing “air bridges” which will allow people entering the UK from countries with an ‘R’ rate lower than 1.0 to be exempt without having to quarantine.


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He said in the Commons: “It is the case that we should indeed consider improvements for example ‘air bridges’ enabling people from other areas, other countries who have themselves achieved lower levels of coronavirus infection to come to the country.

“Those are active discussions that will go beyond what will initially be a blanket situation.”

Mr Shapps also told MPs on Monday that they “should consider” proposals to allow exemptions to the 14-day quarantine rules.

The rules were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 10, which stated that all travellers coming from abroad into the UK would be subject to 14 days of quarantine.

Anyone caught breaking the rules could be fined up to £1,000.

Exceptions to the rules are those travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as most freight lorry drivers.

Mr Shapps announced the rules will be put in place “early next month”.

However, the plans have been heavily criticised by airline bosses who are concerned that the rules will deter people from going abroad in the future.

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Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the UK economy will suffer if the quarantine restrictions are placed on everyone who enters the country.

Mr Holland-Kaye has been advocating for the Government to implement a Common International Standard for travel.

Heathrow Airport, which is the second busiest in the world, reported that its passenger numbers dropped by 97 percent in April.

The airport’s numbers went from 250,000 a day to between 5,000 and 6,000 on average.

Mr Holland-Kaye told Sky News: “This is a very minimal level of traffic, and I think that as long as the quarantine [travel ban] is in place, that will continue at those low levels.

“The quarantine cannot be in place for more than a relatively short amount of time if we are going to get the economy moving again.

“This is where we are urging the Government to have a Common International Standard, working with other countries so that traffic can start to flow in a normal way between low-risk countries.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson told The Guardian: “The aviation sector is important to the UK economy and ministers are in regular contact with its senior representatives to discuss the challenges they are facing and ways we can support.

“We continue to look at the best ways to restart all forms of transport, while also ensuring we limit the risk of creating a second wave of cases.”

Heathrow Airport will trial technologies and processes which could form the basis of a Common International Standard for health screening at all global airports.

The new measures will be trialled to help reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading during travel.

The airport said in a press release that the trials include: “UV sanitation, which could be used to quickly and efficiently sanitise security trays; facial recognition thermal screening technology to accurately track body temperature; and contact-free security screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.

“Before any new measures are rolled out across the airport, they will be reviewed against Heathrow’s three tests to ensure that they are medically grounded, build consumer confidence and are practical for airports to deliver.”

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