Starting date for summer for UK holidaymakers abroad is 6 July

The government has confirmed the ban on foreign travel will soon be lifted – finally allowing summer holidays to go ahead.

But there will be different rules for different destinations. Sources named France, Greece and Spain among the countries that British holidaymakers will be able to visit without breaching Foreign Office advice or needing to quarantine on return.

The government has also confirmed the Foreign Office’s blanket warning against non-essential travel will be eased on 6 July.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre – which was set up to coordinate the government’s response to the pandemic – is categorising countries with a “traffic light” system.

Each country is rated green, amber or red, depending on the prevalence of coronavirus, the trajectory of disease and the centre’s assessment of the data’s reliability.

Quarantine will apply only to nations rated red.

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A government spokesperson said: “Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world – giving people the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad and boosting the UK economy through tourism and business.

“But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge, and this system will enable us to take swift action to re-introduce self-isolation measures if new outbreaks occur overseas.”

But while travellers booked to other destinations wait to find out where they will be able to go, the Greek tourism minister, Harry Theoharis, told BBC Breakfast that British holidaymakers may have to wait an extra three weeks while the authorities in Athens evaluate the UK health record.

The response from the travel industry, severely weakened by the coronavirus pandemic, is a mix of relief that foreign travel can at last begin, and fury at the blanket quarantine system being introduced in the first place.

“Nobody has a problem with targeted quarantine,” said Paul Goldstein, co-owner of Kicheche safari camps in Kenya. “It makes sense to isolate arrivals from places like the US and Brazil. But the government is now admitting its original quarantine was pointless – and just served to heap more harm on the travel industry and people who want to get away.”

There are also concerns about the possible unintended consequences of the government’s announcement.

Some travellers may infer that they can safely go to France or Spain this weekend and simply stay there until 6 July to avoid the need to self-isolate on return. This would go against current Foreign Office advice and render travel insurance invalid.

Others heading for countries such as Portugal – if it is left off the “safe” list – may decide to return to the UK via an airport in Spain.

The so-called “Spanish swerve” is being discussed on social media along with the “Paris pause” to dodge quarantine from other locations.

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