UK Politics

Quarantine-free air bridges could be in place by end of June, reports

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Air bridges between Britain and some countries with low infection rates could be in place by the end of the month enabling people to travel without having to spend two weeks self-isolating on their return.

Current plans mean all international arrivals – apart from people carrying out a limited number of specified roles – would need to quarantine for 14 days from Monday.

The plan has been criticised by travel and hospitality businesses, and ministers are understood to be considering introducing air bridges when the policy is reviewed three weeks after it comes into force.

Agreements would need to be reached with other countries before any policy could be introduced.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the prime minister is "personally in favour" of the idea.

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Further details of the quarantine proposal are expected to be laid before Parliament later.

However, business secretary Alok Sharma insisted the measure is being introduced to "protect the health of the nation" as the level of COVID-19 infections within the UK continues to fall.

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Businesses "all recognise that we have to make sure we are taking care of the health of the nation and that ultimately is what will lead to preserving the health of the economy", the cabinet minister told Sky News' Kay Burley@Breakfast show on Monday.

It comes as MPs return to Westminster after the government dropped virtual proceedings, despite concerns that shielding politicians will be unable to attend.

The government has tabled a motion preventing the resumption of virtual voting that allowed MPs to have their say from afar during the pandemic, but opposition parties are seeking to retain it.

Meanwhile, health secretary Matt Hancock has said the contact-tracing system was "up and running" and was "successful" following reports of problems with technology and staff saying they were being paid up to £27.75 per hour for doing nothing.

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