Every Thursday, prospective overseas holidaymakers have been enduring an anxious wait to see if their chosen destination has remained on the Government’s directory of quarantine-free countries.
This list of travel corridors – nations exempt from the 14-day self-isolation restrictions for overseas arrivals – has been gradually shrinking in recent weeks, with Covid cases rising in many popular destinations around Europe.
Last Thursday, Turkey and Poland became the latest major destinations to have their corridors removed, following the likes of France, Spain and Portugal in past announcements.
UK travellers can still visit the likes of Italy, mainland Greece and Germany without quarantining, but there were fears ahead of today’s update that the list of exemptions could become shorter still.
Instead, contrary to expectation, no countries had their “air bridges” removed. Indeed, The Department for Transport said that the Greek islands of Lesvos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos could now be added to the travel corridors for England following a decrease in confirmed coronavirus cases.
In his customary early evening tweet, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said these new rules would be coming into effect from 4am on Saturday 10 October.
What is the current list of travel corridor countries?
Under the current rules, all travellers need to fill in an online government form before travelling to the UK from overseas, which cannot be completed until 48 hours before arrival.
While everybody needs to take this step, the 14-day quarantine only applies to arrivals from outside the list of Government travel corridors, with a potential fine of up to £10,000 for those who break the isolation rules.
Following the most recent announcement, the list of corridors for people returning to England currently includes the following countries – it is regularly updated so it’s always worth checking the Government’s website for the latest guidance:
- Akrotiri and Dhekelia
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Azores
- British Antarctic Territory
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- the Channel Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Greece (except the islands of Crete and Mykonos– if you arrive in England from these islands you will need to self-isolate)
- Hong Kong
- the Isle of Man
- Macao (Macau)
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
- San Marino
- Singapore (if you arrived in England from Singapore before 4am 19 September 2020 you will need to self-isolate)
- South Korea
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- St Barthélemy
- St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Pierre and Miquelon
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Thailand (if you arrived in England from Thailand before 4am 19 September 2020 you will need to self-isolate)
- Vatican City State
Which countries are at risk today?
Sweden, Italy and Estonia could be at risk of having their travel corridors removed in Thursday’s announcement, according to figures released by the PC Agency travel consultancy on Wednesday.
Germany is also at risk of joining the list of countries from which travellers returning to the UK must quarantine, as is mainland Greece.
The threshold for countries to be removed from the exemption list in the past has usually been 20 people out of every 100,000 being infected with Covid-19 in a country or on an island over seven days. Other factors have also been taken into account, such as testing capacity, the number of deaths from the virus and how the virus has spread.
The figures released on Wednesday by the PC Agency show Sweden has had 35.2 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days; Italy has had 28.6 per 100,000; Estonia has seen 26 per 100,000, while Germany has seen 20.3 per 100,000.
In previous weeks, the announcement on travel corridors has been made by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps via Twitter at 5.00pm on Thursday.