Environment secretary George Eustice has confirmed the UK is considering relaxing its blanket quarantine measures to allow travel from countries with a lower risk of contracting coronavirus.
Ministers are currently finalising the plans, with an announcement on the matter expected on Monday.
Speaking to the BBC, Eustice said: “I know that (transport secretary) Grant Shapps is giving this a lot of consideration so that the quarantine provisions that we have got in place can perhaps start to be relaxed with certain countries where the risk is low”.
On Wednesday Shapps himself was questioned on the matter by the transport select committee, but said he would save details of the plan for the upcoming announcement.
However, he suggested that one of the criteria for assessing which countries included under the air bridge scheme would be whether they had an equivalent of the NHS track and trace scheme.
It is expected that the new rules, which will replace the current policy of making all those who enter England quarantine for 14 days, will be introduced from 4 July.
The BBC suggested that the majority of western Europe could be covered under the updated rules.
It reported that participating countries would include France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey and Finland.
However, Portugal, which had been mooted as a possible destination, is likely to be ruled out due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases in and around capital Sweden.
The quarantine scheme has been among the most unpopular of the government’s coronavirus policies, with a significant backlash from across the political and business communities.
Unsurprisingly, the nation’s airlines have been among the biggest opponents of the scheme, with British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet joining forces to launch legal action against the plan.
A Department for Transport Spokesperson said: “International travel corridors remain an option under consideration by the UK Government, not established policy.
“Conversations take place regularly with governments around the world on a whole range of issues and we will not be providing any further details at this stage”.