Monday 6 July 2020 2:57 pm

Greece to resume direct flights from UK next week

Greece will resume direct flights from the UK on 15 July, after it last week extended a ban on travel from Britain over concerns the infection rate could spike.

Greece is exempt from the Foreign Office’s advice against all but non-essential international travel, but the country last week signalled it was not ready to resume direct flights from the UK and Sweden over infection fears.

Read more: EU prepares ban on US travellers over high coronavirus case count

But in a swift U-turn, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas today confirmed that summer holidays in Greece are back on the cards.

He said: “In cooperation with the British government, and following advice of experts, the government announces the resumption of direct flights from the United Kingdom to all airports of the country from 15 July.”

Greece has handled the pandemic relatively well compared to some of its European neighbours, reporting just 3,500 infections and 192 fatalities from the virus since February.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week announced a raft of so-called air bridges with more than 50 countries, in a bid to curb the requirement for visitors entering England to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Countries including Greece, Spain, France and Belgium are now on the government’s quarantine-free list, which is set to come into effect from 10 July.

The move followed backlash from a slew of British airlines, who claimed the quarantine measures would further cripple the travel industry.

British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair last month launched a joint legal challenge against the government over the proposed guidance, saying it would have a “devastating effect on British tourism and the wider economy”.

However, the UK’s introduction of a quarantine-free list was met with claims of “unnecessary red tape”, after just 25 of the approved destinations said they will allow travel from the UK without restrictions.

More than 30 countries named as part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) list of air bridges said they would not allow free movement with the UK. Some countries said they would maintain a quarantine on British visitors, while others still have in place an outright ban on UK travellers. 

Downing Street today said it expects more countries on England’s coronavirus safe list to announce an easing of restrictions on UK arrivals.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “Many countries already don’t impose quarantine restrictions on travellers from the UK and we expect more to ease restrictions on UK travellers following our announcement.

Read more: Coronavirus safety measures risk ‘immeasurable damage’ to economy, says travel boss

“We are working closely with international partners around the world to discuss arrangements from travellers arriving from the UK.

“It is obviously a changing situation across the world and passengers should check the [official] travel advice and any restrictions at their destination before they book their trip and before they travel.”

Poland today announced that direct flights from the UK have re-started with immediate effect, meaning British citizens are allowed to travel into the country without having to quarantine.

Iwona Bialobrzycka, director of the Polish National Tourist Office, said: “The UK market has always been very dear to us and we just cannot wait to welcome you back.”

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