Swathe of changes sees Portugal added to the travel corridors list.
The change comes into place from 4am on Saturday.
Portugal, a popular destinations for British holidaymakers, has been added to the safe list.
Revealing more details behind the government’s thinking, transport secretary Grant Shapps said the decision considered:
- the estimated prevalence of Covid-19 in a country
- the level and rate of change in the incidence of confirmed positive cases
- the extent of testing in a country
- the testing regime and test positivity
- the extent to which cases can be accounted for by a contained outbreak as opposed to more general transmission in the community
- government actions
- and other relevant epidemiological information
Portugal is now exempt from Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against all non-essential international travel, but Austria, Croatia and Trinidad & Tobago are not.
Yesterday, Heathrow announced it had set up the first coronavirus testing centre for arrivals.
After Spain was removed to the travel corridors list, the airport’s CEO called for a new resting regime. Yesterday, he told prime minister Boris Johnson to “get a grip of our border policy” or risk mass redundancies in the travel industry.
He said: “Testing will not only avoid the ‘quarantine roulette’ that so many passengers faced in Spain and France, it will also open up flights to key trading partners such as the US, Canada and Singapore.
“The government’s own research shows that a double test has a high level of accuracy in screening for Covid. This facility is an oven-ready opportunity to see how Britain can safely reopen for business, as other countries are doing.”
Writing in The Mail, John Holland-Kaye said: “For months, Heathrow has been calling for the government to introduce testing as an alternative to quarantine. A single test is not considered accurate enough, so initially at least a double test would be required.
“Heathrow is ready to support this provided the government sets clear guidelines for a second test and changes regulations to allow passengers who provide two negative tests to leave quarantine early.
“We have worked closely with aviation services company Collinson and logistics firm Swissport to ensure such a testing procedure can be in place. If the government is serious about protecting the economy, this is exactly what should be done.
“Had the government done so after the Spanish crisis, a plan could have been in place for those caught up in the French problems last weekend. It is not too late to save people returning from Greece, Croatia or Italy the inconvenience of 14 days at home.”