Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to impose a self-isolation requirement for travelers arriving from one or more countries at 5 p.m. Thursday. At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will warn against travel to the places concerned.
As coronavirus infection rates rise in most European countries, more countries have passed the UK government’s threshold of 20 new infections per 100,000 in a week.
Although the UK is now at 64 on this index, the level chosen has not changed – meaning that destinations like Croatia are considered ‘at unacceptable risk’ even though their infection rates are below half of those in the UK.
Poland has had the worst week for new infections since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and now has a score of 24.4. If the Transport Department added him to the banned list, the impact would be significant for travelers with family ties in Poland and the UK – as well as airlines and airports.
The number of flights between the two countries and the number of passengers on board are well above the current average.
According to figures compiled by the PC Agency from data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Italy and Greece are at the UK government’s threshold for self-isolation – with rates of 20 , 1 and 20.5 respectively.
But unlike most European countries, everyone’s islands could make a difference. The governments of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are already warning against travel to some Greek islands, while Scotland is imposing quarantine on all of Greece.
One possible outcome is that the mainland could be classified as non-go while direct travel to islands such as Corfu, Kos and Rhodes is not affected.
Italy, which is currently open to travel, could be split between the “safe” mainland and Sicily, which are below the threshold, while Sardinia has imposed a quarantine.
Estonia is another potential candidate for the banned list. The Baltic republic was originally very successful in keeping the virus at bay, but since the start of August new cases have increased – a trend that has accelerated significantly over the past 10 days.
If the destinations are on the prohibited destinations list, the change will likely take effect at 4 a.m. on Saturday, October 3. Anyone who is in an affected location and wishes to avoid quarantine must be back in the UK by this time.
Two other Mediterranean destinations, Cyprus and Turkey, are well below the UK threshold – at 10.8 and 13.4 respectively.
Some figures from the travel industry believe that a more substantial change in the UK’s quarantine policy could be made shortly.
The threshold was set when the new infection rates for Britain and the rest of Europe were much lower than they are now.
One point of view is that general quarantine could be reimposed.
Airlines and the travel industry in general are calling for testing to be included in screening measures, but the government has said existing tests are unreliable.