SUMMER holidays abroad could be back on the cards by the end of the month as the UK Government plans to ease quarantine restrictions for travellers.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has faced growing criticism over the introduction of a 14-day isolation period for anyone coming to the country, due to begin on Monday.

It is understood the Government is likely to ease the measures three weeks after they start with special “air bridges” also being introduced by the end of the month.

Air bridges would allow quarantine-free travel between the UK and other countries which are low-risk for coronavirus spread, enabling holidaymakers to go abroad and tourists to visit the UK without having to isolate themselves for two weeks.

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While no confirmation has yet come from government officially, Boris Johnson last week indicated a change could be made by the end of the month as long as the UK “makes progress” in fighting the virus and “that the other countries are in at least as good a position as we are”. He is also said to be personally in favour of the idea.

Aviation and hospitality industry bosses previously said the restrictions would further cripple their business, having been severely impacted already by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several airline chiefs have now written to the Government calling for air bridges between the UK and 45 other countries to be set up, including favoured summer destinations Spain, France, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and Croatia. EasyJet yesterday announced it was restarting more than half of its routes by the end of July, with 75% expected to be running by August.

Last night, UK Government Health Secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged work to develop the air bridges was currently being done, but said: “This air bridge idea has been floated and there has been a lot of discussion about it, and some countries have been mentioned.

“That is a piece of work being done by the Home Office and the DfT (Department for Transport) and I don’t want to tread on the toes of my colleagues, no matter how tempting it is.”

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Former transport minister Stephen Hammond said that air bridges would be a “sensible, targeted response” to the pandemic. He said: “I think, aswe’ve seen across the world, people are taking measures out of lockdown and this targeted approached would be a much more sensible way to behave.”

Meanwhile, the SNP criticised the Tories for a “lack of public health protections” at ports and airports and the relaxation of quarantine rules before they have even begun.

Unlike many other countries, the UK has not introduced any medical screening such as temperature checks or Covid-19 tests for people arriving into the country, which has been criticised by the SNP.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said the introduction of such measures was constantly “under review”.

The SNP’s Joanna Cherry MP said: “The Home Secretary’s reported plans to water down the already delayed quarantine measures shows how shambolic these proposals are and how recklessly out of step the UK has been since the beginning of the pandemic. The UK Government has already been extremely slow and dangerously lax in its approach to quarantining and health checks of the hundreds of thousands of arrivals to the UK during the pandemic. It has been out of step with other countries who have had public health measures in place at their airports and ports for months.

“Despite repeated calls from opposition politicians including myself and public health experts for measures to be taken, the UK has had no such protections in place. The Home Secretary has abjectly failed to take charge of this policy, implementing quarantining so late that it may have missed the point of its effectiveness, watering down her plans further undermines the basis of the policy change she has announced.

“When the Home Secretary comes before Parliament she must outline the scientific advice behind her decisions, and why the UK Government has moved so slowly and out of step with the international community.”

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From Monday anyone arriving in the UK will have to quarantine in one place, and provide contact details of relatives in case they fall ill. They will also be subject to spot checks, with the UK Border Force given powers to hand out fines for anyone caught flouting the rules.

Ms Patel is due to present the new rules today. She was scheduled to make an announcement yesterday, however was unable to due to time constraints. Some suspected she delayed the announcement due to the backlash from industry.