Boris Johnson will give the green light to foreign holidays next Monday when the Government unveils its long-awaited travel corridor plan.
Ministers will say Britons can visit any one of around ten countries without having to quarantine – reviving summer holidays after almost four months of travel restrictions.
‘Air bridges’ to France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey have been all but confirmed, sources disclosed, with the first flights set to take off on July 4.
Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Gibraltar and Bermuda will also reportedly be announced as destinations in the first round of ‘safe nations’ on June 29.
The Mail has learned Portugal is likely to be included on the list of destinations, despite concerns over recent outbreaks of Covid-19 in the Algarve.
Britons began to arrive in Benidorm, Spain on Monday as coronavirus restrictions were eased
Tourists take selfies in front of Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy on June 19 as travel restrictions loosen
Medium-haul destinations such as Dubai will also reportedly be available for Britons to explore from mid to late summer, with trips to Vietnam and Hong Kong on the horizon from late August or September.
Britons are also expected to get the green light to visit Canada, Morocco and the Caribbean from August.
Ministers are even on the verge of coming to a deal with Australia, as long as flights connect via low-risk countries such as Singapore.
Dozens more countries will be added in coming weeks, including important business destinations, but the initial announcement will be focused on popular holiday routes to give an instant shot in the arm to Britain’s crippled travel industry.
But Britons hoping to travel to the USA, Mexico and South American countries will likely have to wait until December, the Sun reported.
Paul Charles, from the pressure group Quash Quarantine, was reportedly assured by the Government that travel corridors will open as planned – subject to any coronavirus outbreaks.
France (pictured, Paris on Sunday) is among the countries expected to be included in Britain;’s ‘air bridges’
Greece (pictured, Oia on Santorini on June 14) is also among those expected to be announced on Monday
He said ‘intensive’ phone calls are currently taking place across Europe to finalise the arrangements.
‘The first phase will be Europe, and the second phase from August will be more long haul, with the Caribbean, Dubai and Morocco included,’ he said.
‘South America, and Latin America will likely be exempt from the end of the year.
‘There is no way restrictions will be lifted there any time soon as they are at the epicentre of the pandemic at the moment.
‘And it is unlikely that America will open up before the November election, partly because President Trump won’t open it up, but also because the number of cases there is very high.’
Booking boom for staycations
Staycation companies took one booking every 11 seconds after the announcement that domestic holidays will be allowed.
After Boris Johnson gave summer holidays the thumbs up from July 4, UK holiday company Hoseasons.co.uk took around 330 bookings an hour.
Reservations were up 270 per cent on the same day last year. Cornwall was the most popular destination with 14 per cent of all bookings, closely followed by Devon on 9 per cent.
The Foreign Office is expected to relax its warning against all but essential global travel for the first time since lockdown was imposed in mid-March.
Instead, the risk of Covid-19 will be set to low, medium or high depending on infection rates in individual countries.
The plans – to be announced on Monday – will be finalised and signed off today in a meeting with officials from Downing Street, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Home and Foreign offices.
Airlines and airports are also expecting to be briefed on the plans today, giving them just over a week to prepare for the new holiday season.
Under the scheme, travel corridor nations are signing ‘memorandums of understanding’ with the Government, agreeing that whatever anti-coronavirus measures are taken in the UK must be mirrored by similarly stringent policies abroad.
Giving examples to the transport committee yesterday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the other country having an equivalent to our test and trace system was important.
He also spoke of the need to consider the ‘level and trajectory’ of the virus abroad.
Outlining the questions being asked by UK officials, he said: ‘Do they have something equivalent to our NHS Test and Trace system? The Test and Trace system is enormous here now. We’ve got the capacity to test far more than is immediately required but that would allow for any uplift anywhere.
‘Does the country we’re talking to have that kind of capability?’
Mr Shapps added that introducing air bridges is a ‘massive priority’, stating: ‘I understand entirely the pain that aviation is going through. I know both for airports, for airlines and actually for ground handlers as well, this coronavirus has been a complete disaster.
‘The only thing which will be worse is if the country does not continue the work it’s doing on getting on top of it.
‘That’s why quarantine has been introduced at a point where we were getting on top of it.’
Boris Johnson will give the green light to foreign holidays next Monday when the Government unveils its long-awaited travel corridor plan (Pictured: Beaches in Benidorm, Spain)
People sunbathe on Playa de Palma beach in Mallorca as Spain officially reopened its borders amid the coronavirus pandemic on June 21
Travel corridors will come as welcome news to the beleaguered tourism industry, with holiday firms and airlines likely to launch big promotions for last-minute holidays as soon as the announcement is made.
Since June 8, all passengers – bar a handful of exemptions – have been required to go into self-isolation for 14 days when they arrive in the UK.
People who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England, and police are allowed to use ‘reasonable force’ to make sure they follow the rules.
Ryanair has already seen a doubling of UK bookings for flights in July and August since the beginning of June, and price comparison site Travel Supermarket say demand for holidays to Spain has doubled over the past week compared to the week before.
This comes as more than 4,500 airport workers in the UK and Ireland face the axe after Britain’s biggest airport ground handling company announced plans to shed more than half its staff. Swissport yesterday announced job cuts as the pandemic has damaged the aviation industry.
The firm employs 8,500 workers at airports across the UK, including baggage handlers and check-in staff.