Coronavirus: Quarantine critics given ‘private assurances’ air bridges will be introduced in weeks

Travel and hospitality firms opposed to the government’s coronavirus quarantine say they have been given “private assurances” that air bridges will be introduced by the end of this month.

Under new rules brought in on Monday, travellers and returning Britons arriving in the UK by plane, train or ferry must self-isolate for 14 days.

There are some exceptions, including for road haulage and freight workers, medical professionals travelling to help fight coronavirus and seasonal agricultural workers.

Ministers argue the policy will help avoid a second peak of COVID-19, but it has proven to be controversial.

Airlines have described it as “unlawful” and “ineffective”, with three of them – British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair – beginning legal proceedings.

A number of Conservative MPs have also expressed opposition, while some of the UK’s top scientists have cast doubt on the effectiveness of a quarantine.

Air bridges would allow travellers arriving from countries where the risk of being infected with COVID-19 is deemed to be low to avoid having to self-isolate for 14 days.

An announcement from the government could come around 29 June, when the first review of the quarantine is due to take place.

A group of more than 500 businesses is urging ministers to give clarity on the measure.

The Quash Quarantine coalition includes travel firms Inghams and Travel Republic, and London hotels the Ritz and the Dorchester.

Spokesman Paul Charles said the group has “received private assurances from senior government sources that travel corridors will be in place from 29 June”.

He added: “We urge the government to signal to the travel industry publicly and urgently that this is the case, as well as amend FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] advice on non-essential travel.”

Mr Charles said the group was mulling whether to take its own legal action against the quarantine or join the proceedings launched by BA, but would prefer that air bridges are “confirmed as soon as possible”.

“The industry needs urgent visibility on a timetable for travel to begin again,” he said.

A government spokesperson told Sky News: “It’s important to remember what these measures are all about – protecting public health, avoiding a second peak of this deadly virus – and that means managing the risk of cases being imported from abroad.

“We are exploring a range of options to increase travel, underpinned by the evidence shows is safe, including examining how international travel corridors could safely open up routes.”

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