‘Air bridges’ plan is set to involve fewer than 10 countries including Spain, Greece and France


The ‘air bridges’ plan is set to involve less than ten countries, giving tourists the ability to travel between them and the UK this summer with no mandatory 14-day quarantine.

A total of 12 countries – including Greece, Spain, Portugal and France – are being considered with officials examining both the risk of travellers bringing Covid-19 back and the popularity of the destination.

At the moment, any traveller arriving in the UK – whether from Britain or a tourist – must quarantine for 14 days and provide their phone number and an address for self-isolation. 

The ‘air bridges’ plan is set to involve less than ten countries, giving tourists the ability to travel between them and the UK this summer with no mandatory 14-day quarantine. Pictured: Gatwick Airport this week

London City Airport will reopen this weekend after being closed for nearly three months

London City Airport reopens on Sunday after being closed to commercial flights for nearly three months.

The airport has introduced a series of new safety and hygiene measures, including enhanced cleaning, limiting terminal access to those with a ticket and mandatory face coverings.

Its first flight following the restart will be operated by Loganair on behalf of BA CityFlyer from the Isle of Man and is due to land shortly after 6pm.

Initial routes will mainly be restricted to those within the UK and Ireland, with services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin expected to return next month.

New routes to Teesside and Dundee will be launched on July 6 while flights to sunshine destinations such as Ibiza, Florence, Malaga and Palma are likely to resume in the coming weeks.

London City’s runway was closed to commercial and private flights on March 25 due to the collapse in demand and travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

The airport has been available to Government agencies and the military during the crisis. 

The ‘air bridge’ rules would come into play on July 4 and will likely be announced on June 29. But it will only go ahead if the chief medical officer provides advice on each nation and the Foreign Office lifts its non-essential travel ban to the countries in question. 

An aviation source told The Daily Telegraph: ‘It is work in progress – risk first, and how you measure that risk, followed by the popularity of the destination.’

A second plan, which could reduce the need for quarantine and kick-start the travel sector post-lockdown, is the possibility of coronavirus tests for arrivals in UK airports, The Times reports.

A trial is set to take place at a UK airport next month and will be run by Swissconsent port and the Collinson Group.

Nurses will administer free and optional nose swabs on those willing to take part. Saliva tests will also be trialled at the airport – which has not yet been named.

Results will be provided between seven and 24 hours later.

Greece has already introduced mandatory Covid-19 testing for arrivals from countries deemed high-risk, such as the UK. 

Anyone landing from these countries must also quarantine on arrival. 

However, these tough measures only apply to those arriving from ‘higher risk’ airports.

Those considered ‘lower risk’ include Bristol, Southend and Edinburgh and arrivals from these are only be subject to random testing.

Any plans depend on reducing the risk of a second wave meaning quarantine could stay in place for the next few months. 

This hasn’t stopped Britons eagerly looking into potential holidays, however, as searches for Spain and Greece doubled on Travelsupermarket after the nations declared they were open for business.

There has been an 18 per cent increase in people looking for Spain package holidays in just one week, the travel comparison website said. 

On week beginning June 7 , there was a 34 per cent increase in people looking for return flights from Britain on Skyscanner compared to a month ago.

Anyone arriving from these high-risk countries must also quarantine upon arriving in Greece

Greece has mandatory Covid-19 testing for arrivals from countries deemed high-risk, such as the UK. Pictured: Athens airport

In other developments to Britain’s coronavirus crisis on Friday:

  • The Government was accused of underplaying the coronavirus death toll after it emerged more than 1,000 people died every day in the UK for 22 consecutive days;
  • Schools in England face waiting a fortnight to find out how the government expects to bring every child back to school in September;
  • This comes as plans in Northern Ireland suggest teachers will have to move between classrooms and school bags could be banned; 
  • A Whitehall source said ministers were considering relaxing the rules even further by allowing two families to go into one another’s’ houses in ‘support bubbles’;
  • A 12-year-old child is among the youngest people in Britain to die from coronavirus, after passing away in hospital earlier this week. 

Britons could be seeing a more ‘normal’ summer following the announcement that the UK’s ‘Covid-alert’ level was downgraded from level four to level three following a dramatic reduction in new infections, hospital admissions and deaths. 

Scientists confirmed that the epidemic is shrinking by 4 per cent every day and the crucial reproduction ‘R’ rate is still below the dreaded level of one.

The measures come after Britain's 'Covid-alert' level was downgraded from level four to level three following a dramatic reduction in new infections, hospital admissions and deaths

The measures come after Britain’s ‘Covid-alert’ level was downgraded from level four to level three following a dramatic reduction in new infections, hospital admissions and deaths

Number 10’s scientific advisory panel SAGE revealed the R – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – has stayed between 0.7 and 0.9 for weeks, meaning the coronavirus is firmly on the fall after terrorizing Britain for months. It must stay below one or Britain will face another crisis. 

Following the news, a raft of new lockdown-easing measures to be announced by Boris Johnson over the next fortnight were revealed. 

Infections down by 4% each day 

The coronavirus outbreak is shrinking by up to 4 per cent each day, according to Government figures.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies yesterday revealed the epidemic’s growth rate – how quickly the number of cases is changing day by day.

The outbreak is overall getting smaller as the growth rate is shrinking by 2 to 4 per cent per day.

But this figure may be growing in London and the Midlands. 

The R value, the measure of how many people an infected person passes the disease on to, is between 0.7 and 0.9. 

A value below one means the disease will eventually peter out. 

While the growth rate shows the size and speed of change, the R value only reveals the direction of change.

Professor Keith Neal from the University of Nottingham said: ‘It is good that the growth rate is negative. As the number of cases falls everybody’s risk falls.’ 

Beer gardens will be patrolled by staff to enforce social distancing rules and pubs automatically entitled to serve alcohol for people to drink on the pavement in the street.

The Government’s scientific advisers have also green-lit plans to ditch the two-metre social distancing rule so that pubs, restaurants and hotels can reopen early next month following a dramatic lowering of the coronavirus alert level.

Pubs will be asked to strictly monitor their beer gardens to ensure social distancing and customers will be encouraged to order their drinks via a phone app. In restaurants, staff will not be able to set tables in advance while hotel staff are being asked to place room service on door steps in a bid to minimise contact between staff and guests. 

There will also be a ban on self-service buffets while napkins and cutlery must be brought out only with food, under the new guidelines seen by the Times. The guidance also states that all menus must be disposable and discarded after every use.

Any hotel guests who fall ill will be forced to self-isolate either at home or in their hotel rooms which will be cordoned off for 72 hours after they check out. Gyms will also be asked to enforce social distances between their machines – though they are not expected to reopen until later this year.

Clubbers may have to wait a while before they can hit the dancefloor however, as they pose difficulties for social distancing. Temperature checks and hand sanitiser at the door could become part of the British night out when clubs finally do reopen.

Number 10's scientific advisory panel SAGE revealed the reproduction rate - the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects - is still between 0.7 and 0.9, meaning the coronavirus is firmly in retreat after terrorizing Britain for months. It must stay below one or Britain will face another crisis

Number 10’s scientific advisory panel SAGE revealed the reproduction rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is still between 0.7 and 0.9, meaning the coronavirus is firmly in retreat after terrorizing Britain for months. It must stay below one or Britain will face another crisis

So how WILL schools reopen under plans to double the size of classroom bubbles? 

Schools in England face waiting a fortnight to find out how the government expects to bring every child back to school in September with unions and teachers baffled over how a bubble of 30 children per class will work.

Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson said on Friday they intend to speed up pupils’ return to the classroom, with the Education Secretary saying the government was looking at expanding bubbles of 15 ‘to include the whole class’.

The Department for Education has offered no guidance on how schools can plan their return to the new academic year, but it will likely involve cutting the gap between pupils to one metre and following similar guidance from elsewhere.

Unions are up in arms over the lack of clarity, but a 53-page document from Northern Ireland’s Department of Education could offer a glimpse inside daily life for schools come September, it involves:

Stay in one classroom:

Secondary school pupils could be asked to stay in one classroom throughout the day, with teachers moving between lessons. There’s a possibility meals could be delivered to classrooms to save space and stop ‘bubbles’ from spreading germs. It’s not clear what will happen to art, science and technology equipment, such as canvases and Bunsen burners. Primary schools have followed similar measures, with pupils heading out for staggered, supervised breaks that are often more organised than normal playtime.

Don’t bring anything to or from home:

Pupils will be encouraged not to bring bags into school and will also be told not take anything room from the classroom. Equipment that is hard to clean could be placed in storage, which has been done with toys in younger years classes in England. It’s not clear what will happen for children bringing books to school or doing homework.

Lessons in dining halls:

To ensure schools have enough room to teach classes, the DoE says dining halls and assembly halls can be temporarily converted to make room for multiple classes. Where there still isn’t enough space, schools are being encouraged to make remote learning a possibility. There have been calls, including from Labour leader Keir Starmer, to use empty libraries and leisure centres as makeshift schools to create extra space.

No need for PPE:

The guidance says children should not wear PPE in school and staff should only wear it in very limited circumstances, such as giving medication to a pupil.

Pupils to stay one metre apart:

Pupils to stay one metre apart in classrooms. In Northern Ireland, some principals have said a one-metre social distancing requirement would prevent them from accommodating all pupils at the same time. Scientists have told Boris Johnson to relax the two-metre rule.

Schools should be ready to exclude pupils who do not follow new Covid-19 rules.

The Department of Education warned schools should ‘make provision to be able to sanction, up to and including exclusion, pupils who wilfully refuse to adhere to arrangements of social distancing and deliberately cough or spit at pupils or staff, putting them at risk.’

School ‘bubbles’ – which currently only allow 15 pupils in a classroom at once – will also be doubled to allow all children to return to school in September and get lessons back up and running. 

And NHS bosses will write to more than 2 million vulnerable patients in England who have been shielding since March to assure them it’s safe to go to the shops and get exercise outdoors. 

Ministers will next week publish legislation to push an ‘al fresco revolution’ across the nation’s hospitality industry.

Outdoor eating and drinking will be actively encouraged as customers are far less likely to contract coronavirus in the fresh air.

However there are concerns that long queues outside could be an attractive target for terror. The advice says queues should be directed around bollards and other barriers that protect pedestrians.

But some pubs have vowed to carry on regardless. Jack Stein, Chef Director at his father Rick Stein’s restaurant chain, told the Telegraph: ‘It is not just about business, we are British and everyone just wants to go to the pub.

When we can serve that first piece of turbot and first pint in our pub it will be fantastic and the whole industry will breathe a sigh of relief.’ 

A Government source last night revealed that scientific advisers were now ‘totally comfortable’ with reducing the restriction – provided other precautions are in place.

These could include making sure buildings are properly ventilated, greater use of masks or the installation of screens where people might be too close together.

The remarks by the senior source are the biggest indication so far that scientists will not resist if Boris Johnson chooses to relax the two-metre rule. Yesterday, the Prime Minister told the public to ‘watch this space’ when asked whether the rule would be eased in schools. 

Mr Johnson has already announced a review into the controversial guidance in the face of mounting pressure from pub, hotel and restaurant chains and his own backbench MPs.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the shift in alert level as ‘a big moment for the country’. Yesterday Mr Johnson urged the public to ‘start thinking of a world where we are less apprehensive of this disease’.

He said the Government would switch from a ‘one-size fits all’ national lockdown to local restrictions to contain smaller outbreaks. 

After weeks in which the alert was maintained despite Number 10 starting to ease lockdown, the Joint Biosecurity Centre concluded that transmission is no longer ‘high or rising exponentially’.

The move was approved by the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and it was hailed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock as a ‘big moment’ that showed the ‘government’s plan is working’. 

Mr Johnson faced a backlash at the end of last month when he announced tweaks to lockdown, before it emerged that the alert had not been changed from level four – which according to the government’s own definition requires ‘current social distancing measures and restrictions’ to stay in place.

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, was rumoured to have stood in the way of the move, although there is also thought to have been resistance from his counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It comes as Government scientists published growth rate data for the first time on Friday. Until now, SAGE had only provided details on the R rate – the average number of people an infected person is likely to pass the virus on to. 



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