Turkey is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Britons – so many people will have wanted to soak up some late season sun there this autumn.
Up to October, travel to Turkey has been allowed, but like with any foreign travel during a global pandemic it came with risks – and it has now had its “travel corridor” removed after a rise in Covid-19 cases.
The change was announced by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Twitter on the evening of Thursday 1 October, with the measures coming into effect a couple of days later.
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Here’s everything you need to know if you were planning a trip to Turkey, and why the new restrictions have been brought in.
What is the latest Turkey travel advice?
Until 1 October, Turkey was exempt from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against all but essential international travel.
However, after the travel corridor was removed, quarantine restrictions come into effect from 4am on Saturday 3 October.
After this, anybody arriving in the UK will have to self-isolate for two weeks – under new rules, breaching these regulations could incur a fixed penalty fine of up to £10,000.
Poland also had its “air bridge” removed in the same announcement, along with Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba.
As part of the removal of the travel corridor exemption, the FCO updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to Turkey.
If people are currently in the country, the FCO advises the follow the local rules and check Government travel advice pages for the latest information – employers are urged to be understanding of the need for returning travellers to self-isolate after Saturday.
Even before the quarantine rules changed, all passengers returning to the UK needed to fill out a passenger locator form on the Government website with your contact and journey details or risk a £100 fine.
Why was Turkey added to the quarantine list?
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Turkey recorded 22,272 cases of Covid-19 in the 14 days up to 1 October, the date of the announcement, bringing its total to 318,663.
A UK Government statement said: “The Turkish Health Ministry has said it has been defining the number of new COVID-19 cases in a different way to the definition used by international organisations such as WHO and ECDC, meaning that the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s risk assessment for Turkey has been updated to reflect the likely impact of this on the data for incidence and test positivity rates.”
The Scottish Government, which issued its own quarantine restrictions independently from the UK Government, added that “it is clear that case numbers in Turkey have been under-reported”.
In recent months, as part of its efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus, the Turkish government had imposed curfews. These have been time-limited, or aimed at particular age groups and could be implemented at short notice.
Travellers arriving into Turkey had also faced some changes due to coronavirus. All arrivals have had a medical evaluation for symptoms of Covid-19, including temperature checks and a Covid-19 test if you show symptoms.
The wearing of masks is obligatory throughout Turkey in crowded places and in markets and supermarkets, hairdressers and barber shops. Face coverings are also compulsory on all public transport and in private vehicles with more than one other person.