LONDON – The traditional British summer getaway to sun-soaked Mediterranean beaches picked up steam Friday as U.K. quarantine restrictions were removed from dozens of countries, including France, Greece and Italy.
But with many flights still canceled, resorts working on ensuring that they are COVID-safe and many potential vacationers reluctant to make a trip abroad in light of the pandemic, Britain's airports are much less busy than they would be in any other year.
Last week's announcement by the British government to ease quarantine requirements for anyone arriving back to the U.K. has given some a nudge to take the plunge. Scotland’s list is slightly different to that for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, requiring people from Spain to quarantine, for example.
“We probably would have gone later,” said Ray Gordge, 64, at Gatwick Airport, south of London, on his way to Paris to see his daughter for the first time in six months, and meet his new grandson, born last week.
As of Friday, anyone arriving back to England, Wales and Northern Ireland — resident or non-resident — from around 75 countries and territories won't have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The aviation and travel industries are hoping the new rules will help them salvage part of the summer vacation booking season battered by the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic — thousands of people have lost their jobs as business ground to a halt.
The crucial period will be later this month when the school year officially ends and travel companies and airlines start ramping up operations.
Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate said the relaxation of the rules can make a "massive difference,” given that around three-quarters of the destinations the airport serves are now free from quarantine requirements.