Gatwick is eerily quiet today despite UK ‘air bridges’ coming into force


Britain’s airports remain largely deserted despite Coronavirus ‘air bridges’ finally come into force today as it was revealed that all travellers must fill in UK quarantine forms on arrival despite the policy being eased.

Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted were all quiet today despite quarantine-free links with 73 countries starting up from this morning as an exclusive MailOnline poll shows that under a fifth of Britons intend to go on holiday abroad this year.

Today also spells the end of two-weeks of self-isolation for those coming to Britain – as it was revealed that not a single person has been fined £1,000 by police in England and Wales for breaching quarantine rules after arriving from abroad, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council. 

MailOnline can reveal there was chaos at the border this morning with visitors returning from exempt countries still asked to fill in forms. 

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘There has been no change to the requirement to fill in the passenger locator form. All passengers, unless in the extremely limited exempted category, will still need to complete a passenger locator form.

‘We are aware of a small number of incidents where arriving passengers have been given an out of date form in error. These forms have since been removed and the problem has been rectified.’

Gatwick was very quiet with just 70 flights coming in and out compared with hundreds on a pre-lockdown day. Bosses said today they hope it is a turning point

The Brick family from Europe are heading off to Europe on holiday today but many others are shunning foreign breaks

The Brick family from Europe are heading off to Europe on holiday today but many others are shunning foreign breaks

Despite quarantine ending for most people were still asked to fill in the forms at the UK border today as it was revealed not a single person has been fined for breaching the rules

Despite quarantine ending for most people were still asked to fill in the forms at the UK border today as it was revealed not a single person has been fined for breaching the rules

There was a slow flow of people heading abroad - but the South Terminal remains closed today

There was a slow flow of people heading abroad – but the South Terminal remains closed today

Outside the North Terminal is was eerily quiet as it was revealed that not a single person was fined for breaching quarantine rules imposed over the past month

Outside the North Terminal is was eerily quiet as it was revealed that not a single person was fined for breaching quarantine rules imposed over the past month

The NPCC also revealed that just 10 tickets were handed out to passengers for not wearing face coverings on public transport in the UK – despite large numbers not sticking to the rules. 

Gatwick’s South Terminal remains closed today with the very few flights departing and arriving at the Sussex airport operating from the North Terminal.

Where can you fly to and from without having to go into quarantine? 

The 73 countries 

Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Réunion, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, South Korea, Spain, St Barthélemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Vatican City, Vietnam. 

Plus the 14 British Overseas Territories.

And who isn’t on the list?

Canada, the US and most of Central or South America. Countries in Africa, the Middle East and most of Asia are also excluded.

In Europe travellers from Sweden, Portugal and Russia must also quarantine. 

Restaurants, currency exchange bureaus and some shops are also shut while all people entering terminals are encouraged to wear face coverings.

Travelaters are also taped off to maintain social distancing with hand sanitising stations at each end of the long empty walkways.

Staff wearing PPE meet some passengers waiting in communal areas to help them prepare for the security process made more complex by coronavirus. 

On her way to catch a 12.30pm flight to Turkey, a 36-year-old mum from Tottenham, north London can’t contain her excitement to see her family in Antalya with her son, 12.

But despite quarantine rules being lifted, she will isolate upon her return due to feeling vulnerable from undergoing cancer treatment last year.

The woman who did not want to be named said: ‘I only recovered from cancer last year and as soon as I became able to go on a holiday, Covid started. Now I’m just running away and I can’t wait to get there.

‘We’re planning on spending two to three weeks there which is going to be fantastic after months of isolation. I feel safe going to Turkey because they have been really strict with fines for not wearing face masks outside. It’s better than London – nobody cares here.

‘When we get back, I’m going to quarantine myself, not just for my own benefit but to keep my loved ones around me safe. I feel vulnerable but I don’t want to spread it to others either.’  

Ted Thornhill was travelling back to London from Paris on this morning’s 10.13 Eurostar departure when he was asked to fill out a quarantine form instructing him to self isolate on arrival in the UK – despite the lifting of travel restrictions. 

The MailOnline travel editor explained: ‘When I arrived at the ticket barrier at Gare du Nord, there was a notice on a stand saying that you must fill in a contact locator form and I was immediately confronted by a Eurostar staff member who asked if I had completed the form.

‘I asked her why as the quarantine doesn’t apply from today but she said I had to fill out a form regardless. She said it was nothing to do with Eurostar and that it is a requirement of the Border Force.

‘The Eurostar official told me to go through the ticket barrier when I showed her that the QR code to download the form wouldn’t work and speak to Border Force.

‘I used the electronic passport control and I was stopped by a border official, who asked if I’d filled out the form.

‘I told him that quarantine has lifted but he said, I know but you have to fill it out anyway.

‘What’s confusing is that the form then states that the 14-day self-isolation quarantine is still in effect, along with a £100 fine for not filling out the form.

‘Plus it’s monumentally tiresome to fill out. I’m all for health and safety. But I’m also all for clarity for travellers’.

Research for MailOnline found limited appetite among the public for heading for sun-drenched beaches, despite the lifting of draconian quarantine measures on many countries. 

Just 17 per cent intend to have a break abroad this year, while 22 per cent say they will go on holiday in the UK. Some 54 per cent say they have given up on the idea altogether for 2020, according to the poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies.

Even among those who do expect to have a holiday, most will not be going in the summer. Just 11 per cent are looking at booking for this month, a third next month, and 28 per cent say they will wait until September. 

Another 27 per cent say they won’t be taking a break until October or later this year.

Nearly half said they were planning a holiday abroad before the pandemic struck – and only a quarter were not proposing any kind of getaway. 

Some 54 per cent say they have given up on holidays altogether for 2020, according to the poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies

Some 54 per cent say they have given up on holidays altogether for 2020, according to the poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies

The poll found that even among those who do expect to have a holiday, most will not be going in the summer

The poll found that even among those who do expect to have a holiday, most will not be going in the summer

The UK government has confirmed quarantine-free travel to more than 70 countries and British overseas territories. 

As well as short-haul European destinations, the travel corridor list also includes long-haul locations such as Australia, Barbados, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.

But the US, Canada, Portugal and Sweden are not on the list and many other countries in South America, Asia and Africa are not included in exemption because of high rates of coronavirus. 

As part of the plans, the Foreign Office has relaxed its embargo on ‘all but essential’ global travel for 67 countries – although travellers will still have to quarantine when they come back from destinations which don’t have a travel corridor.

The rules are slightly different in Scotland, where First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has approved 57 countries – but Spain is not one of them. 

The scheme finally began as:

  • Anger grew as the Foreign Office officials told all Britons to avoid cruise ships – not just the over-70s; 
  • People travelling to the UK from France say they are stilling being told they need to isolate for 14 days;  
  • Holidaymakers are urged to wear masks at all times even on the beach and by the pool; 
  • Travel insurers admitted that they are unlikely to pay out if someone falls ill with Covid-19 abroad; 

With the World Health Organisation warning that the coronavirus pandemic is still rising, tourists face a very different experience on most holiday spots.

A separate poll yesterday suggested there is also widespread doubts in many other countries over whether they want British tourists, with infection rates still relatively high in the UK.  

On the Balearic Islands – which are braced for the arrival of thousands of English sunseekers this weekend – police have been given the power to fine holidaymakers £90 if they fail to wear coverings outside their hotel rooms.

But officials confirmed last night that holidaymakers will not have to wear the masks by pools or on beaches in Majorca and Ibiza.

Tourists will also not have to wear a face covering in restaurants and bars if they are seated to eat or drink.

Spanish authorities are concerned the mass arrival of tourists could lead to a spike in Covid cases on the Balearics, which have some of the lowest rates of infection in Spain.

In recent days, police have shut down a series of illegal parties in Majorca and Ibiza where large numbers of tourists have gathered with no masks and no social distancing. 

It emerged today that Serbia is being removed from a list of where people returning to or visiting England can avoid quarantine.

The UK Government announced that the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England have ‘updated their coronavirus assessments of Serbia based on the latest data’.

Serbia was included on a list of 76 countries and territories from which people arriving into England will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days from Friday.

The list included popular destinations such as Spain, Germany, France and Italy, but Portugal was one of the notable omissions.

Holidaymakers should wear a mask EVERYWHERE as part of the ‘new normal’

Holidaymakers should wear masks while travelling, in hotels and even on beaches, a coalition of the world’s biggest travel companies will say today.

As part of a ‘new normal’ for holidays, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is urging tourists to wear masks at virtually all times, wherever they are, to prevent a second wave of coronavirus.

Tourists should even have face coverings on by the pool and on beaches where they cannot keep a two-metre gap between their fellow sunbathers, the council says.

Airports, hotels, nightclubs, museums, gyms and all other ‘indoor venues’, including public areas on cruise ships, should also have mandatory mask-wearing rules in force until a vaccine is found, it recommends.  

The Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive decided to follow the same approach, but the Scottish Government produced a list of just 39 countries not including Spain or Serbia.

There have been two nights of violent clashes in Serbian capital Belgrade by thousands of people protesting against coronavirus lockdown measures.

Serbian authorities have reported 352 coronavirus deaths and 17,342 cases, but it has been claimed the data does not represent the full impact of the virus.

UK holidaymakers were looking forward to meeting new grandchildren and being reunited with loved ones as they travelled on the first day of the new quarantine rules being in place.

Passengers passing through Gatwick Airport’s north terminal admitted they would not be travelling if they were still required to self-isolate for two weeks on their return.

‘We probably would have gone later,’ said Ray Gordge, 64, from Taunton, who was on his way to Paris to see his daughter for the first time in six months, and meet his new grandson, born last week.

‘It’s exciting, I’m pleased the quarantine has been lifted to be honest,’ he said.

‘It’s nice to have a bit more normality.’

Mr Gordge said he only booked his easyJet flight in the last few days, but had no concerns about travelling.

‘I think it’s OK as long as you’re wearing a face mask. It’s very strange.’

While Labour welcomed the UK Government’s relaxation of the quarantine for some countries, it criticised ministers for failing to secure agreements with more destinations to accept UK visitors without restrictions.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said workers and holidaymakers were paying the price of the Government’s failure to act.

He added: ‘The fact they have been unable to negotiate air bridges is an indictment of their failure to tackle the crisis at home.

‘They were too slow to take lockdown, too slow to order PPE (personal protective equipment) and too slow to protect our country.

‘Labour has consistently called for a sectoral deal that supports the whole aviation industry including the supply chain based on our six conditions.

‘Tory ministers have failed to act and workers are paying the price and trips are being cancelled.’

As of today, Scottish holidaymakers are allowed to visit 57 countries and 14 British territories without having to enter a two-week quarantine on their return. But travellers have been warned to expect restrictions in destination countries, including temperature checks on arrival.



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