THE prospect of people being able to take foreign holidays this summer has drawn nearer after Boris Johnson said travellers could be exempt from a 14-day quarantine after returning from countries where the rate of coronavirus infection was "at least as good" as that in the UK.

The Prime Minister suggested that so-called "air bridges" to allow quarantine-free travel could be introduced from the end of next month, if agreements were reached with other countries.

The UK is to impose a 14-day quarantine requirement for anyone arriving in the country from June 8 but the rules will be reviewed every three weeks.

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At the Commons Liaison Committee – made up of all the chairmen and women of the various committees - Mr Johnson was asked about "air bridges" by Huw Merriman, who chairs the Transport Committee.

The Tory backbencher said: "Many people have commented that a sensible regime would look at the countries and their R rate and if it's below ours, then there should be no need for quarantine.

"Whilst that may not be possible for June 8, will that be possible for the next three week period which is June 29, to allow those buying cheaper flights for their summer holidays, which have gone on sale today, to be removed from the threat of quarantine?"

Mr Johnson replied: "Yes, absolutely. We want to make sure we use the three-week reviews to be sensible. We want to drive the R down as fast as we can in this country and to have as sensible a quarantine scheme as possible and to keep flows as generous as we can."

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Asked what would have to change between now and June 29 for "air bridges" to be accepted, the PM replied: "We will have to agree them with the other countries concerned but we will also have to make progress in tackling the disease, and we will have to have evidence that the other countries are in at least as good a position as we are."

Mr Johnson was also asked during the session how quarantining people would not slow down the economic recovery from the pandemic.

He said: "I hope it will not retard the recovery of the economy by helping to prevent reinfection which could lead to a second outbreak and the R going over one again in such a way as to do serious economic damage, to necessitate another lockdown."