COVID-19: UK and US taskforce to thrash out resumption of transatlantic travel 'as a matter of priority'

Friday 11th June 2021 09:00 BST

Trade Minister Greg Hands told Sky News on Thursday that Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden will be launching a project at this weekend's G7 summit in Cornwall "looking at how we can reopen transatlantic travel between the US and the UK".

Mr Hands added he believes flights between the two nations should resume "as a matter of priority" due to the "important relationship" the two share.

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But speaking to Sky News on Friday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the matter was discussed by Mr Johnson and Mr Biden but there will be no announcement "imminently".

"We all want to do it, it was something that was discussed yesterday and we've got an idea... but it's not something that we'll be announcing imminently," he said.

The UK Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to the whole of the US due to the current coronavirus risks.

The US remains on the UK government's amber list, meaning people who travel to and from the country have to self-isolate on arrival for 10 days.

Most passengers from the UK are also currently banned from travelling to the US and have been since a presidential decree was introduced last March.

On Monday, the bosses of airlines that operate flights between the UK and US and London's Heathrow Airport called for a transatlantic travel "corridor".

They said it would be "essential" to ensuring the economic recovery of the aviation and travel sectors.

Mr Hands said he agreed it is important that travel between the two nations resumes.

"Well we are launching a working group together - the United States and the United Kingdom," he told Sky News.

"This is one of the agreements that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden will be launching today, we'll be looking at how we can reopen transatlantic travel between the US and the UK.

"There will be a working group set up and we are looking as a matter of priority. It is such an important relationship for travellers, for families, for tourists, but also for investors.

"Every day in this country a million people in this country go to work for US companies. In the United States, more than a million people go to work for British companies.

"It is very important that we get that transatlantic relationship reset up in terms of travel between the two countries."

The UK has introduced a traffic light system for travelling abroad based on the COVID situation in different countries.

The system was introduced on 17 May, with reviews taking place every three weeks.

The first review, on 3 June, downgraded Portugal to the amber list, throwing getaway plans for some holidaymakers into doubt - and forcing those already out there to shorten their trip and rush back to beat the quarantine deadline.

The green list consists of Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, plus several small, remote islands that are British Overseas Territories.

However, entry to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands is severely restricted.

People returning from a country on this list do not need to quarantine, but will be required to take a COVID-19 test two days after arriving in the UK.

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