Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Add Bulgaria to list of countries you can visit without quarantine upon return.

The list of countries you can visit this summer without quarantining when you return to the UK has been published, but does not include Bulgaria. It should be added to the list, as it has low infection rates and many people want to go back this summer to see family.

More details

It is important for the government to do this so that British citizens returning from Bulgaria can get back to work as soon as possible without having to quarantine for two weeks. Taking away quarantine for people returning from Bulgaria should not be a problem, as Covid infection rates there have been low - even lower than a lot of the countries which are included on the list. Many people book holidays or go to see family in Bulgaria, so this is not an unreasonable ask.

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Government responded

This response was given on 24 November 2020

The JBC risk assessment indicates the risks to UK public health from travellers returning from Bulgaria remains unacceptably high. We will keep the country under regular review.

The Government keeps the countries and territories from which international arrivals are required to self-isolate under constant review. We have been clear that we will open up Travel Corridors to countries, territories and islands when there is a sustained improvement under the UK’s methodology.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and Public Health England (PHE) monitor over 250 countries, territories and islands daily to inform these risk assessments. Factors taken into consideration include:

• An estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infected (this is known as ‘point prevalence’);

• Weekly case incidence rate taking into account population size of the country, territory or island;

• Trends in incidence, deaths, hospitalisations and intensive care admissions;

• Information on laboratory capacity, testing and contact tracing strategies, and test positivity rates;

• COVID-19 cases detected in the UK following travel to the country, territory or island (‘imported infections’);

• Qualitative information related to the reliability of reported data and the maturity of public health systems; and

• Public health measures in place and the enforcement of, and adherence to, those measures.

The latest JBC risk assessment indicates that the risks to the UK public health from travellers returning from Bulgaria remains unacceptably high. Decisions on international Travel Corridors are reviewed weekly. We will bring Bulgaria onto the travel corridor list as soon as it is safe to do so.

On 7 October, the Secretary of State announced the establishment of the Global Travel Taskforce. The aim of the Taskforce will be to consider what steps the government can take, both domestically and internationally, to enable the safe and sustainable recovery of international travel. To do this, the taskforce will consider:

• how a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK

• what steps we can take to facilitate business and tourist travel on a bilateral and global basis, through innovative testing models and other non-testing means

• more broadly, what steps we can take to increase consumer confidence and reduce the barriers to a safe and sustainable recovery of international travel

Testing is not the only solution and so the taskforce will also consider steps to support the recovery of international travel more broadly, including non-testing based interventions.

Facilitating safe international travel is not a task that can be undertaken by the government alone, so this taskforce will operate in collaboration with the transport industry, the tourism and local business sectors and the private testing sector. It will also engage with partners from governments across the globe.

The taskforce will report back to the Prime Minister in November 2020

Department of Transport

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/330333)

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Original Government response

Decisions on International Travel Corridors are informed by risk assessments provided by the JBC, working closely with PHE, using a methodology endorsed by the four Chief Medical Officers of the UK.

The Government has emphasised that it is vitally important that we manage the risk and keep the number of cases of COVID-19 in the UK as low as possible.

The Government keeps the countries and territories from which international arrivals are required to self-isolate under constant review. We have been clear that we will open up Travel Corridors to countries, territories and islands when there is a sustained improvement under the UK’s methodology.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and Public Health England (PHE) monitor over 250 countries, territories and islands daily to inform these risk assessments. Factors taken into consideration include:

• An estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infected (this is known as ‘point prevalence’);

• Weekly case incidence rate taking into account population size of the country, territory or island;

• Trends in incidence, deaths, hospitalisations and intensive care admissions;

• Information on laboratory capacity, testing and contact tracing strategies, and test positivity rates;

• COVID-19 cases detected in the UK following travel to the country, territory or island (‘imported infections’);

• Qualitative information related to the reliability of reported data and the maturity of public health systems; and

• Public health measures in place and the enforcement of, and adherence to, those measures.

On 7 October, the Secretary of State announced the establishment of the Global Travel Taskforce. The aim of the Taskforce will be to consider what steps the government can take, both domestically and internationally, to enable the safe and sustainable recovery of international travel. To do this, the taskforce will consider:

• how a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK

• what steps we can take to facilitate business and tourist travel on a bilateral and global basis, through innovative testing models and other non-testing means

• more broadly, what steps we can take to increase consumer confidence and reduce the barriers to a safe and sustainable recovery of international travel

Testing is not the only solution and so the taskforce will also consider steps to support the recovery of international travel more broadly, including non-testing based interventions.

Facilitating safe international travel is not a task that can be undertaken by the government alone, so this taskforce will operate in collaboration with the transport industry, the tourism and local business sectors and the private testing sector. It will also engage with partners from governments across the globe.

The taskforce will formally report back to the Prime Minister in November 2020

Department of Transport

This response was given on 3 November 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

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