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A couple separated by Covid were engaged at Gatwick as the airport marked the first day of relaxed quarantine measures.

Ben Gilkes and Cristina Paiva had been apart for two months after Ben was unable to go on their joint trip to Portugal after catching Covid-19 between his first and second jabs.

Cristina, a nurse, returned from Porto on the first day of relaxed quarantine rules for EU arrivals. Ben heralded her homecoming by popping the question alongside a bouquet of flowers. His mother, Rosie Nightingale, was also present.

The proposal was one of many emotional reunions marking the relaxation of restrictions for double-jabbed EU and US travellers.

Those who have had both jabs of a Covid vaccine were allowed to enter the UK from 4am this morning after the government announced they would be exempt from quarantine on 27 July.

John Gurney, a British ex-pat who lives in Amsterdam with his family, brought his young children to see their grandmother who lives in the UK for the first time since Christmas 2019.

Mr Gurney said: “It’s just a relief because of the tension of the [vaccine] passport thing and you wonder ‘are all of these QR codes going to work?’ My mum just said to the grandkids: ‘You’re real, you’re not just on a screen’.

“We normally come every Christmas and then last Christmas we sort of presumed you will and then haven’t and then they were like. ‘oh, it’s happening and then oh it’s not’.”

Jack, Sam and Dan are brothers who have reunited with their brother Ryan for the first time in two years after he spent time working in Russia and Ukraine.

On arrival at Gatwick, the brothers and their gathered family cheered Ryan through the arrival gate.

Jack, who had not seen Ryan for a year longer than his brothers, said: “It’s a bit surreal to finally be all together again after so long.”

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