Britons have been left with only a handful of countries to visit where quarantine is not required at either end after Poland, Turkey and the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba were removed from the UK’s travel corridor.
The news comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hiked maximum fines for those who refuse to self-isolate on arrival to £10,000, up from £3,200.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said the new restrictions, announced on Thursday, are a “massive blow for the travel industry”. Here’s what you need to know.
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Why is Poland on the quarantine list?
Mr Shapps said data from Poland showed that “test positivity has nearly doubled, increasing from 3.9 per cent to 5.8 per cent alongside a rapid increase in weekly cases”.
Poland is reporting 25.9 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, up from 15.6. By comparison, the rate in Manchester is currently at 259.9 per 100,0000.
The new requirement to quarantine on return to Britain will come into force at 4am on Saturday 3 October. You’ll need to provide your journey and contact details before travelling, as per UK Government rules.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises against all but essential travel to Poland, based on the Covid-19 risk, but is not urging those already in Poland to leave.
Travellers should follow the advice of local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others and should contact their tour operator or airline for any questions about return journeys.
What about the other countries?
Along with Poland, Turkey and the islands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba have been removed from the Government’s list of safe travel corridors.
Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba also reported 142.4 new cases per 100,000, unchanged from 142.4 in the previous week.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s rate has dropped to 12.9 cases, down from 14.2 in the week prior.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it removed Turkey as the country’s health ministry had defined the number of new Covid-19 cases in a “different way” to the definition used by international bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Joint Biosecurity Centre’s risk assessment for Turkey has since been “updated to reflect the likely impact of this on the data for incidence and test positivity rates”, the DfT said.
It came after the likes of France, Portugal and Greek islands were removed from the safe travel list in previous weekly updates after recording increases in cases.
‘It’s been an impossible year’
Digital advertising analyst Sarita Parto, from Hammersmith, west London, was due to travel to Krakow in Poland on Thursday evening, but decided to cancel her trip following the announcement – her fifth such cancellation to mainland Europe this year due to coronavirus.
Tomasz Lis, a concert pianist who moved to the UK from Poland 23 years ago, said the new rules would cost him £3,000 in lost performance earnings plus the cost of flights.
The 43-year-old, from London, said his firm Bespoke Tour, a travel company offering tailored trips to Poland, would lose “a very substantial amount” of custom in what has already been a trying year.
“We haven’t really had any serious bookings since March… we managed a few during summer and now it’s all vanishing again,” he said.
“It’s been an impossible year already and the Government would do much better by checking temperature at the airports, for instance, and test people who may have it rather than introduce those absurd rules.”