People arriving in England from more than 50 countries including France, Spain, Germany and Italy will no longer need quarantine from July 10, the Department of Transport confirmed.
A full list of exempt countries with “reduced risk” of coronavirus will be published later.
Most travelers to the UK currently have to isolate themselves for two weeks.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also changing its advice against all but essential travel to a number of countries from Saturday.
Quarantine restrictions came into effect in early June to try to prevent the introduction of coronaviruses at a time when infections in the UK were decreasing.
The new exemptions mean that people arriving from certain destinations will be able to enter England without needing to isolate themselves, unless they have been in or transited through non-exempt countries in the previous 14 days.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast that the full list of “50 plus” exempt countries will be released Friday afternoon.
He said the countries on the list would be labeled as orange or green, according to a traffic light system based on their prevalence of coronavirus.
All amber countries – including France, Germany, Italy and Spain – will have “reciprocal agreements” in place, which means travelers from the UK will also not have to be quarantined upon arrival, said Shapps.
But countries classified as green, which have “very low” levels of coronavirus, will have restrictions on arrivals to the UK, he added.
“I take New Zealand as a good example. They have restrictions on your arrival, but we thought it was fair to include them [on the UK’s list of exempt countries] because people may want to come here from New Zealand, and this is not a particular threat to our hard-won earnings that everyone has gone through, staying at home, “he said.
The Ministry of Transport (DfT) added that decentralized administrations “would define their own approach” to the exemption and urged travelers to comply with the relevant rules.
The Scottish government has yet to finalize its decision to relax restrictions on international travel.
The Welsh government has not yet decided whether to follow England by relaxing the restrictions. In Northern Ireland, quarantine rules remain in place for travelers arriving from outside the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
Ministers have been pressured to relax quarantine measures due to the impact on the travel industry.
The DfT said a risk assessment had been carried out by the Joint Biosecurity Center, in close consultation with Public Health England and the chief medical officer.
It took into account factors such as the prevalence of the virus, the number of new cases and the potential trajectory of the disease in this destination, said the department.
The list of exempt countries will be kept “constantly reviewed” so that if health risks increase, self-isolation measures could be reintroduced, added the DfT.
In the meantime, the Department of Foreign Affairs will establish exemptions for a number of destinations from its current advisory against non-essential international travel, in effect since March 17.
Shapps said the move marked “the next step in the prudent reopening of our great nation.”
“The whole nation has worked tirelessly to get to this point, so safety must remain our watchword and we will not hesitate to act quickly to protect ourselves if infection rates rise in the countries with which we let’s reconnect, “he said.
All passengers, except those on a small exemption list, will still be required to provide their contact details upon arrival in the UK, including details of the countries or territories they have traveled to or have crossed in the previous 14 days.
A spokesperson for Airlines UK trade association said the announcement was “very welcome” and meant that the airlines “could restart services to many key markets in time for summer travel spikes”.
“There is no doubt that quarantine has had a devastating impact on our industry and, while it is welcome that the government has lifted its blanket ban, we would encourage rigor and science is applied in all future decisions about our businesses, “he said.
Quarantine policy has been criticized by some Conservative MPs, including former Minister of Transport Theresa Villiers.
She said it damaged the travel industry without reducing the risk of coronavirus.
The announcement comes as the Prime Minister is scheduled to conduct a press conference before businesses, including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas, which will reopen in England on Saturday.
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