Australia and British territories Gibraltar, Bermuda, Montserrat and the Falklands Islands are also being considered for “travel corridors”, although it is not clear if they would be part of the first tranche of countries.
The numbers of countries with agreed corridors is likely to increase after the first review on June 29, although ministers are determined that each step should be assessed to minimise the risk of a second coronavirus wave.
That means quarantine could remain in place throughout the summer for anyone arriving from countries that do not have a corridor with the UK.
With the prospects of “air bridges” rising, some families are already planning to decamp to Europe this summer, with some travel firms reporting a spike in bookings.
Emma Coulthurst, of price comparison website Travelsupermarket, said people seemed to be “pre-empting” the Government announcement and had been “buoyed” by seeing countries such as Italy and Portugal reopening for tourism.
She said searches on the site for holidays in Spain and Greece doubled a fortnight ago when the countries made it clear they were trying to salvage the summer season. In the past week, there has been an 18 per cent increase in searches for package holidays to Spain.
“Through to June, we were seeing most searches for October departures, followed by September and December and April and May next year,” said Ms Coulthurst.
“Things have completely flipped in the last fortnight on the back of talk of ‘air bridges’ and European countries reopening. Now it is this July, August and September that we are seeing most searches and bookings for.”