The US will be on a “red list” of high-risk countries that people in England are advised not to visit for non-essential reasons because of its continued high level of coronavirus cases, the government has confirmed.
Travel restrictions will be relaxed in England for more than 50 countries including nearly all EU countries, British territories such as Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the quarantine rules would not be lifted next week for travellers arriving from the US or Greece.
“The US, from a very early stage, banned flights from the UK and from Europe so there isn’t a reciprocal arrangement in place in any case there,” he said. “They have got very high numbers of infections, which is why they are not on the list today.”
Shapps told BBC Breakfast the countries people would be able to travel to England from without facing quarantine restrictions would be split into two groups.
“We have countries in the green category where there are very low occurrences [of coronavirus], and then countries in the amber group. They would include France, Germany, Spain and quite a number of others.”
Ministers have not guaranteed reciprocal arrangements with all the included nations, meaning some may require English holidaymakers to go into quarantine at the beginning of their trip. Shapps said some countries – such as New Zealand – on the green list might impose restrictions on English travellers, while England would allow New Zealanders to enter the country without restriction.
“I take New Zealand as a good example. They do have restrictions when you arrive, but we thought it was right to include them because people may want to come here from New Zealand and that’s no particular threat to our hard-won gains.
“But on the middle countries, those ones are places where we have reciprocal arrangements in place that if you go there or if you come here, the arrangements are the same both ways round. In other words, you do not have to quarantine.”
Asked about the decision taken by Boris Johnson’s father to visit his holiday home in Greece, Shapps said it was “up to the individual” to decide what was essential travel, but that Stanley Johnson would have to self-isolate on his return to England for 14 days.
The government has failed to convince the devolved administrations to sign off on the overall plan, with the Department for Transport stating that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will “set out their own approach”.
On BBC Scotland’s Reporting Scotland programme, Scotland’s justice secretary, Humza Yousaf, criticised the UK government’s approach to air bridges, saying devolved governments had not been sufficiently consulted.
“[It] is so frustrating that the information that the UK wanted us to consider has either been given to us the night before they intend to make an announcement, including last night, or indeed given to us 30 minutes before a meeting with substantial changes, and of course that is no way to get any kind of agreement,” he said.
Yousaf said the prevalence point – the estimated proportion of the population currently infectious – of the virus in Scotland was 0.037 while in England it was “five times higher”.
“There’s some countries that may not be as high-risk as England or a lower risk than England but, clearly, coming into Scotland, if they are a higher risk – France, Italy, Spain all have a higher prevalence point than Scotland does – then clearly that’s going to have a different potential impact in Scotland than it does in England,” he added.
According to the DfT, the Joint Biosecurity Centre, in consultation with Public Health England and the chief medical officer, considered factors for each destination, including the prevalence of coronavirus, the number of new cases and the potential trajectory of the disease. Passengers will still be required to provide contact information on arrival in England.