UK scrapping quarantine for many visitors but not ones from the U.S.
Senior Verger Luke Marshall cleans chairs that have be positioned to allow for social distancing, at Chichester Cathedral as they prepare to reopen for public worship on July 5, as further coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted in England, in Chichester, England, Thursday July 2, 2020. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)
The Associated Press
Published Friday, July 3, 2020 5:40AM EDT
LONDON -- The British government said Friday it is scrapping a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from about 60 countries deemed "lower risk" for the coronavirus, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy -- but not the United States, the world's worst-hit country from COVID-19.
The change takes effect July 10, just over a month after the U.K. began requiring international arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks. The full list of exempted countries will be announced later Friday, the government said.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said countries will be coded on a traffic-light system: green for low risk, amber for medium and red for high-risk. The U.S., which has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, will be in the red category, and arrivals will have to quarantine.
"They have got very high numbers of infections, which is why they are not on the list today," Shapps said.
On Saturday, the government will also exempt several countries from its advice against overseas travel, meaning U.K. tourists can once again head abroad on vacation.
Shapps said the changes are "good news for British people and great news for British businesses." But he stressed that the government could re-impose quarantine restrictions "in countries we are reconnecting with."
The changes announced apply only to England, a sign of friction between Prime Minister Boris Johnson's central government and semi-autonomous administrations in the rest of the U.K. -- Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been particularly critical of Johnson's approach to easing coronavirus lockdown measures and has taken a more cautious approach.
The British government made its announcement without securing reciprocal agreements that British travellers will not face quarantines in all the countries. The Department for Transport said its "expectation is that a number of the exempted countries will also not require arrivals from the U.K. to self-isolate."
Britain has the highest COVID-19 toll in Europe, with almost 44,000 confirmed deaths. The country is gradually emerging from a nationwide lockdown imposed in March, with bars, restaurants and hairdressers allowed to reopen in England on Saturday.
The European Union re-opened its borders this week to people from 14 countries including Canada, Japan, South Korea and Morocco -- but not the U.S.
Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 but continues to be bound by its rules during a transition period that lasts until the end of the year.