Portugal’s foreign minister has said his country is in discussions with the UK about “air bridges” so tourists can avoid being quarantined.

Augusto Santos Silva told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “quarantine is an enemy of tourism”.

He went on: “During these weeks our diplomats will work together in order to guarantee that British tourists coming to Portugal would not be subjected on their return to England to any kind of quarantine.”

Italy, another country popular with UK tourists, began allowing people to travel in, out and around the country for the first time in around three months on Wednesday.

Most people arriving in the UK from Monday will be told to isolate for 14 days in an attempt to prevent coronavirus cases being introduced from overseas.

A £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England will be levied on those failing to adhere to the quarantine, with prosecution and an unlimited fine potentially to follow.

There is widespread concern that the measure will cause further damage to UK travel and tourism businesses, which have been badly hit by the pandemic.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who will set out the rules on Wednesday, said avoiding a second peak of coronavirus “will always be our top priority” and insisted the restrictions on arrivals “are informed by science, backed by the public and will keep us all safe”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that the Government is still looking at the prospect of “air bridges” between the UK and other countries, creating specific exemptions from the quarantine rules.

Reports suggest Boris Johnson is in favour of the plan.

EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways are among the airlines which have announced plans to ramp up their operations next month, despite the Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently advising against non-essential foreign travel.

Health minister Edward Argar said he hoped people would be able to go on holiday this year.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I’m not going to say a particular date on when that might happen because we will have to be guided by how the disease behaves, controlling any risk of a second wave and controlling the disease.

“I hope that people will be able to go on holiday at some point this year, but I can’t make that promise and because I have to be cautious and go with the science and I don’t have that forward view yet of how a second wave or otherwise might behave.”