Priti Patel warns Britons holiday air bridges won't happen 'overnight'

Priti Patel warns Britons desperate to jet off on holiday that air bridges will not happen ‘overnight’ and the UK still needs to negotiate with countries to lift quarantine rules

  • Home Secretary spoke after travel companies reported biggest Saturday sales
  • Bargain hunters rushed to book before a ‘traffic light system’ comes in this week
  • Ms Patel today: ‘These measures won’t come in overnight, they will take time’

Under a traffic light system (above), countries will be rated green, amber or red based on infection levels, the reliability of official data and confidence in test and trace systems

Priti Patel dampened hopes of Britons desperate to jet off on holiday as soon as possible today, warning that quarantine-free ‘air bridges’ will not be up and running ‘overnight’.

The Home Secretary spoke out after travel companies reported their biggest Saturday sales ever as bargain hunters rushed to book before a ‘traffic light system’ is introduced this week.

It would allow Brits go on holiday to the safest destinations without having to quarantine for 14 days is unveiled on Wednesday and comes into force on July 6.

The Foreign Office will also lift its advice against ‘all but essential travel’ to low or medium-risk destinations, making it possible to obtain travel insurance.

But Speaking to Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday today, Ms Patel said that there may be some heavy negotiations ahead before some countries allow UK residents to travel.

She said: ‘There will be an announcement in the next few days ahead, the review point is tomorrow, which is what the Government has outlined.

‘You will have to, along with members of the public, listen to the advice, see what the government is saying in terms of the countries that we are going to be opening up with, who we are working with, the countries that my colleague the Transport Secretary (Grant Shapps) is in dialogue with right now.

‘But of course these measures won’t come in overnight, they will take time, because some of this will be down to negotiation, discussions with certain countries.’

The Home Secretary spoke out after travel companies reported their biggest Saturday sales ever as bargain hunters rushed to book before a ‘traffic light system’ is introduced this week

Travel companies have reported their biggest Saturday sales ever as bargain hunters rushed to book before a ‘traffic light system’ is unveiled on Wednesday (pictured: beaches are jam-packed on the beach of Calella in Barcelona on June 20)

Countries across the world are highlighted in green, amber or red based on the infection levels, the reliability of official data and confidence in test and trace system

It came as Sir Mark Walport, the former government chief scientific adviser, said the UK needs to maintain ‘constant vigilance’ as it eases out of lockdown.

How will flights look different?

  • Socially-distanced queues at check-in and security.
  • Passengers must wear masks throughout the flight, including children.
  • There will be temperature checks on arrival. 
  • Passengers will fill out contact tracing forms and give their holiday address and home address.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said the Government faced a ‘fine balancing act’ between managing the virus outbreak and the health harms caused by a damaged economy.

He said people needed to be ‘sensible and responsible’, and to try and reduce social contact as much as possible.

Citing coronavirus case numbers, he said: ‘The virus is out there, it is very widely distributed and we have to have constant vigilance.’

Asked whether a second spike of the coronavirus outbreak was inevitable, Sir Mark added: ‘When outbreaks occur they typically occur in clusters and we’re seeing certain work environments, for example, food processing factories, as being fairly common places for those clusters to rise.

‘The common denominator is really being indoors, being crowded, being there for prolonged periods of time, noisy environments where people are coughing and shouting, and so there’s more droplet transmission.

‘It comes back to local control being really important to identify those clusters when they happen and clamp down on them quickly.

‘We need to do everything we possibly can to avoid a widespread second wave.

‘The evidence that the virus does transmit better in cold workplaces again suggests that winter might be quite a risky time again.’

Asked if the virus could come back in winter when the NHS is under more pressure, Sir Mark said: ‘That is obviously a significant risk.’

He said that the virus probably lasts longer in the air and on surfaces in cold and wet environments.

The partial dismantling of Priti Patel’s quarantine scheme means UK holidaymakers will be able to return home without having to self-isolate for 14 days. The Foreign Office will also lift its advice against ‘all but essential travel’ to low or medium-risk destinations, making it possible to obtain travel insurance.

The Eurotunnel website crashed early yesterday with online bookings not working properly as ‘too many customers are trying to make a booking’, according to the company., the third biggest holiday rental site in Spain, said it had a record-breaking Saturday morning while TUI, Britain’s leading tour operator, reported a rise of 50 per cent in bookings compared to last week.

Tour operators were yesterday offering record discounts of up to 70 per cent for trips to France, Spain, Italy and Greece. The changes will also let foreign tourists visit the UK, giving a boost to the beleaguered hospitality sector.

Head of International Brands at Peter Jarvis said: ‘We’re already seeing a huge increase in online interest in our holiday homes from the UK market, with pool properties being the most popular (up 104 per cent).

‘Vigilance is absolutely still needed but with sensible precautions on either end we are confident we will see a safe summer in the sun for Brits again this year.’

Under the traffic light system, drawn up by the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England and set to be in place by July 6, countries will be rated green, amber or red based on coronavirus infection levels, the reliability of official data and confidence in test and trace systems.

The automatic 14-day quarantine requirement will remain only for ‘red-rated’ countries such as the US and Brazil. Travel between ‘green’ and ‘amber’ countries will be quarantine-free, but passengers will have to fill in a ‘locator form’ to trace their movements.

‘Green’ countries are expected to include Austria, Croatia, Greece and Germany while ‘Amber’ countries include France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain. It is hoped an agreement will be reached with Australia and New Zealand in the coming weeks to add them to the list of ‘green’ countries.     

Portugal, Sweden and Turkey set to miss out on Britain’s air bridge list 

Portugal, Sweden and Turkey are all set to miss out on Britain’s air bridge list, which is set to be unveiled tomorrow. 

Boris Johnson is due to give the green light to foreign holidays from Monday, as he unveils a list of 50 countries Britons can travel to and from without needing to quarantine for 14 days upon returning. 

But Portugal, Sweden and Turkey are all set to be excluded because of their levels of coronavirus infections. 

However, Portuguese officials are insisting that its outbreak is ‘clearly controlled’ and saying there is no scientific or empirical justification to keep them off the list. 

British holidaymakers account for 20 per cent of Portugal’s income from tourism.  

A lockdown has been reimposed in 19 Greater Lisbon parishes with an 8pm curfew for all businesses apart from  supermarkets, restaurants and service stations in the rest of the city. 

Around 70 per cent of Portugal’s daily 300 cases are being reported in the capital.  

However, Professor Henrique Barros, president of Portugal’s National Health Council, said the outbreak was ‘clearly controlled’ and that the UK’s status was ‘worse’.

He said: ‘The places where tourists tend to walk are the safest in the country. Tourists are not taking the overcrowded metro or train at 6am in the morning to go to work. 

‘I mean the risk is almost negligible.’

Sweden, meanwhile, was identified last week as suffering a coronavirus resurgende. 

However, Anders Tegnell, a state epidemiologist, said the rise was due to more testing.

He added: ‘The number of admissions to intensive care is at a very low level and even deaths are starting to go down.’

Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey jas doubled in a month after the country started easing lockdown restrictions in late May. 

Professor Guner Sonmez, of Üsküdar university, said he feared the government was losing control.

 Up, up and away! Country by country, your guide to the destinations and the sunshine deals 

By Tom Chesshyre 

With much of Europe set to reopen for the summer holidays, here’s our guide to the leading ‘air bridge’ contenders – and the getaway deals that are ALL between 30 per cent and 70 per cent cheaper than usual:

France says ‘Oui’

President Emmanuel Macron had refused to lift France’s quarantine on British visitors unless we did the same for French citizens coming here.

Now an ‘air bridge’ is set to be formed, opening up our second most popular holiday destination.

Expect strict social distancing in restaurants, bars, markets and stores, where shopkeepers reserve the right to demand customers wear face masks. Gatherings of more than ten people in public are banned. Nightclubs are closed.

Holidaymakers are able to book holidays again as ministers agreed last night to open air corridors with dozens of countries, including Spain, who have put plans in place for the tourist season (above)

Bag a bargain: A fortnight at a cottage for four in Brittany from £1,200 in August including Portsmouth-St Malo ferry crossing with car (; A fortnight at a four-star beachfront hotel in Cannes with flights and transfers departing from Gatwick in August from £1,400pp (; A week at a villa sleeping six on the Aigues Mortes Marina in Languedoc Roussillon from £950, excluding flights (

What will hotels look like?

Guests will wear masks at reception and other indoor communal areas. 

Receptionists will be behind a Perspex screen, similar to those in supermarkets.

Some will test temperatures on arrival. Different groups should not get in the same lift.

At breakfast, guests will be asked to wear a mask and sanitise their hands at the entrance. Many resorts are handing out disposable plastic gloves. 

Some hotels are scrapping breakfast buffets, with staff bringing food to your table.

The hotels which still serve buffets are adopting a one-way system and a limit on the number of people at food counters.

Tables will be 1.5 metres apart and guests will be encouraged to eat outside, if possible.

British annual visitors: 10.3million

Smiling in Spain 

After holding back over Britain’s indifferent Covid record, Spain reopened its borders to UK visitors on June 21. 

A royal decree to wear face masks has been issued for hotels, restaurants, museums, attractions and shops when social distancing of 1.5 metres is impossible; see

Bag a bargain: A fortnight at the Jardin del Sol Apartments on Gran Canaria from £640pp departing from Gatwick on August 8 (; A fortnight for a family of four from £2,436 at Cristina Villas in Cala Millor on Majorca departing from Manchester on August 16 (; A fortnight for a family of four from £2,156 at Villa La Canada, a self-catering property with a pool near Frigiliana in Andalucia with Gatwick flights on August 29 (

British visitors: 18.1million

Gunning for Greece 

With fewer than 4,000 coronavirus cases, Greece has avoided the worst of the pandemic. 

Since early May it has been relaxing its lockdown rules with shops, archaeological sites, restaurants, cafes, bars, leisure parks, and spas opening. 

From July 1, cultural events will be allowed. Ferries have been running for more than a month. Face masks must be worn on public transport, in taxis and in some shops.

Bag a bargain: A seven-night all-inclusive stay at Crete Maris Beach Resort from £3,332 for a family of four with Gatwick flights on August 7 (; A fortnight-long three-star, self-catering break in Aghios Georgios in Corfu from £438pp with Luton flights on August 1 (; A fortnight at upmarket Villa Penelope I, sleeping four, with a pool, from £4,691 on August 16 (; Easyjet flights for family of four from £828 (

British visitors: 3.4million

Tour operators were yesterday offering record discounts of up to 70 per cent for trips to France, Spain, Italy and Greece. Pictured, a passenger arriving on the first flight from Stansted on 21 June

Italy is ready 

Hotels, bars, restaurants, museums, campsites and, even mountain huts have reopened. Face masks must be worn in indoor public places, and in outdoor places where one-metre social distancing is impossible. 

What will be the scenes on the beaches?

Masks will not be compulsory on the beach.

At popular resorts, a traffic light system will let people know how busy the beach is. 

When it hits red, no more will be allowed on the sand.

In Benidorm, below, visitors will have to book a 13ft x 13ft taped-off area on the beach using an app.

Areas will be colour-coded: blue for general use and red for the over-70s

Big signs have been put up with advice on how to stay Covid-free.

Tourists will be asked to keep a three-metre space between umbrellas and a 1.5 metre gap between towels. 

Sunbeds will be spaced two metres apart and fixed down in some resorts. They will be disinfected before reuse. Mattresses will have plastic covers to help keep them sanitised.

Some beaches are banning team games such as football and volleyball. Inflatables are also banned.

Children can bring buckets and spades, but they cannot be shared with other children 

At busy resorts, tourists will be asked to wear masks on promenades and will have to follow a blue-arrowed one-way system.

In Lombardy it is still mandatory to wear masks outdoors. Social distancing on beaches is 1.5 metres. Temperature checks may be requested.

Bag a bargain: A fortnight at the four-star Grand Hotel Francia e Quirinale in Tuscany from £952pp B&B on August 22 with Heathrow flights (; A week at TUI BLUE Astro Azzurro in Piano di Sorrento from £1,076pp all-inclusive on August 24 (; A fortnight at Villa Le Vignacce in Volterra, Tuscany, sleeping four, from £3,476 for a family of four including Gatwick flights on August 28 (

British visitors: 5.1million

Portugal at risk 

The possibility of an air bridge to Portugal is still in doubt after its infection rate rose, with an announcement expected next week. But authorities there have introduced a ‘Clean and Safe’ standard requiring hotels and B&Bs to maintain stringent hygiene standards. 

In public areas, social distance of two metres is required and face masks are mandatory on transport and in busy shops. 

Golf courses, zoos, oceanariums, restaurants and cafes have reopened. Some extra restrictions have also been put in place in Lisbon.

Bag a bargain: A fortnight at the Monica Isabel Beach Club in Albufeira, the Algarve, from £1,333pp with Stansted flights on August 14 (; A fortnight at the Jupiter Algarve Hotel in Praia da Rocha from £1,267 B&B on August 7 from Manchester (; A week at the upmarket Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve from £3,439 B&B for a family of four with Stansted flights and transfers (

British visitors: 3.3million

Cyprus on the map 

It will have taken a while for Britain to get the tourist thumbs up from Cyprus – 22 countries in the EU were ahead of us.

But it will be worth the wait, especially as visitors have reassuringly been promised free medical attention in the (highly unlikely) event of coming down with Covid. 

Intensive care units have been set aside and the cost of lodging, food, drink and medication will be covered for those affected and their families. Social distancing is required in hotels, restaurants and bars.

All travellers returning to the UK will have to provide contact details in case an outbreak is traced to their flight and they have to self-isolate. Failure to comply could result in a £1,000 fine (above, German tourists arriving in Spain on June 15)

Bag a bargain: A week at the five-star Azia Resort & Spa in Paphos from £697pp B&B with Stansted flights on August 26 (; A fortnight at the Avanti Holiday Village near Paphos from £3,476 self-catering for a family of four departing Glasgow on August 1 (; A fortnight at the Village and Coastal Villas in the Troodos mountains from £1,143pp self-catering with Manchester flights on August 1 (

British visitors: 1.3million

Croatia wants us 

The chief of the Croatian National Tourist Office in London says government officials are ‘actively lobbying Britain – we really value British guests’.

Britons can already visit Croatia, but visitors are required to fill out an online form at 

They must also provide proof of accommodation has been booked on arrival. Restaurants, hotels, cafes and beaches have been open since May.

Bag a bargain: A fortnight at Hotel Lapad in Dubrovnik from £1,084pp B&B departing Stansted on July 26 (; A fortnight at Villa Ruzica in Trogir from £643pp departing from Stansted on July 26 (; A fortnight at Villa Konalic on the Dubrovnik Riviera from £2,001 for a family of four departing on August 20 from Manchester (

British visitors: 898,000

Marvellous Malta 

Malta has established an accommodation hygiene standard, with regular audits. Social distancing is required at hotels, restaurants, bars and on beaches. 

Pool capacity is capped at 50 per cent. Face masks are required in confined spaces.

Bag a bargain: A fortnight at the ST Bluebay Apartments on the Sliema/Gzira promenade from £471pp including Stansted flights and transfers on August 1 (; A fortnight at the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Valetta from £909pp from Gatwick on August 1 (; A fortnight at the Ramla Bay Resort with Stansted flights on August 4 from £3,207 for four (

British visitors: 640,000

Customers wear face masks as they wait to have breakfast inside the Nuria restaurant in Barcelona, northeastern Spain earlier this month

Will Turkey take part? 

Despite talks between national officials there is a belief that Turkey will not be in the first wave of air bridges. 

Nevertheless, preparations have been made, including temperature checks on arrival.

And how about restaurants and bars?

Masks will have to be worn as you enter and hand sanitiser must be applied.

Masks can come off at the table – but worn to walk to the toilet

In some restaurants, diners are handed plastic barcodes which you scan on your phone to access the menu. 

Some are placing tables 1.5 metres from each other, although others don’t bother. 

All waiters, waitresses and chefs will wear masks

Bars are encouraging drinkers to be served at their tables. 

Those who do approach the bar must wear masks.

Masks must also be worn in supermarkets, shops and cafes. 

Bag a bargain: A fortnight at Club Candan in Marmaris from £1,051pp self-catering with Gatwick flights on August 7 (; A fortnight at the Dalyan Resort in Dalaman from £2,608 B&B for a family of four departing from Gatwick on August 1 (; A fortnight at Villa Ebru in Kalkan from £3,655, for six, in August; flights excluded (

British visitors: 2.5million

Belgian cheer 

A key country for Eurostar services, with Brussels a major hub and many tourists travelling on to enjoy the delightful cities of Bruges and Ghent. 

Hotels, restaurants and bars have reopened with social distancing. It is recommended to book tables at restaurants. Wearing face masks is mandatory on public transport.

Bag a bargain: A return journey by train to Brussels from St Pancras with a week at the Aparthotel Adagio Brussels Grand Palace from £504 for two departing August 9 (; A week at the four-star Augustin hotel in Brussels with flights from Glasgow on August 16 from £490pp (; A week’s stay at the Theatre Hotel Brussels from £325pp including Heathrow flights on August 23 (

British visitors: 1.8million

Dutch courage 

Amsterdam is back, one of Britain’s most popular short break destinations. Groups of as many as 30 people are allowed to gather in public places but a strict 1.5 metre social-distancing rule remains. 

Hotels, cafes and restaurants are open. Until September 1, cannabis cafes may only provide a takeaway service. Nightclubs are also closed until then.

Bag a bargain: A return by train to Amsterdam from St Pancras with five nights at the Urban Lodge Hotel from £331pp on August 20 (; A week at Hotel de Hallen in Amsterdam from £402pp including Glasgow flights on August 16 (; Five nights at the WestCord Fashion Hotel Amsterdam from £277pp from Luton on August 6 (

British visitors: 3.5million

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