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England scraps quarantine for 50 countries - but not US

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London (AFP)

Travellers from more than 50 countries including France, Italy and Spain -- but not the United States -- can stop self-isolating on arrival in England from July 10, the UK government said Friday.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will each announce their own separate rules depending on how they work in England.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the change, which reverses a two-week quarantine policy imposed in June, would lead to the "reopening of the nation".

Shapps told the BBC that a full list of "50-plus" countries would be published later on Friday.

Under the new rules, a traffic-light system -- red, amber and green -- would be used for different countries depending on their prevalence of the coronavirus.

Travellers from the green and amber countries will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival.

The amber countries will have reciprocal arrangements in place with England, while the green countries are deemed to be safer than England, such as New Zealand.

The amber countries include France, Italy and Spain, which are among the most popular summer holiday destinations for Britons.

But the United States and Greece, another popular travel destination, will be designated with a red light, which requires 14 days of self-isolation.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's father Stanley created a UK media scandal this week by flying to his Greek holiday home via Bulgaria to avoid the restrictions.

Johnson refused to comment on the trip when asked about it during a radio interview Friday.

"I really think you ought to raise that with him," Johnson said of his father. "I am not going to get into the details of family conversation."

- Airlines cheer -

The government had hoped to introduce the system across all four UK nations, but a political row has left England going it alone.

"Today marks the next step in carefully reopening our great nation," said Shapps.

"Whether you are a holidaymaker ready to travel abroad or a business eager to open your doors again, this is good news for British people and great news for British businesses."

People arriving in England would still have to fill out a locator form, he added.

The reaction to the new system from beleaguered tourism and aviation industries, which had been critical of the 14-day rule, has been largely positive.

In a statement, budget airline EasyJet said: "This would be an important move in the reopening of aviation, to support the wider UK recovery."

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said it was waiting for further details in the government's announcement and said it was "continually reviewing our flying programme".

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said allowing easier entry for overseas visitors would provide "a timely boost".

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