Quarantine: Turkey, Poland join banned list, piling up misery for vacationers and travel industry

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An estimated 10,000 British holidaymakers in Turkey must choose between paying a fortune for a return flight on Friday – if they can find one – or spending two weeks in isolation upon their return to the UK.

The Ministry of Transport (DfT) said data on Covid-19 infections meant anyone returning from Turkey or Poland after 4 a.m. on Saturday had to be quarantined for 14 days.

At the same time, the maximum fine for violating self-isolation rules will increase to £ 10,000.

While infection rates in other countries rose sharply, Turkey’s barely changed in September. It reported an average of 13 new cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period, varying only a few percent during the month; the UK threshold for enforcing quarantine is 20 cases.

But the low and consistent figure appears to have raised suspicion among UK medical experts that the data cannot be trusted. A leaked letter between health officials in Turkey indicated that a huge spike in new infections had been covered up.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of Transport, said: “The Turkish Ministry of Health has defined the number of new cases of Covid-19 in a different way from the definition used by international organizations such as the World Health Organization. health and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, so we have updated our risk assessment for the country. “

The move will cause massive disarray in the travel industry as one of the last remaining options for UK holidaymakers is being shut down.

A spokesperson for Abta, the travel association, said: “The removal of Turkey and Poland from the list of travel corridors is a blow to the travel industry.

“This, coupled with popular winter sun destinations like the Canary Islands, still on the quarantine list, only increases pressure on a struggling industry.

At the same time as the DfT imposed the quarantine, the Foreign Ministry warned against any non-essential travel to the countries concerned “on the basis of the current assessment of the risks of Covid-19 in the country”.

A spokesperson for the Manchester Airports Group, which also includes Stansted and East Midlands, said: “Poland and Turkey are extremely popular destinations, and their removal from the safe travel list means that a large portion of the markets in which our passengers usually visit are now effectively closed, although many of them have much lower infection rates than in the UK

“This reinforces how vital it is for the government to establish a testing regime that would allow for a safe reduction in quarantine periods for passengers arriving from overseas.

“We welcomed the confirmation in early September that this project is being actively worked on.

“Customers need confidence now as they look to book vacations for next year, and we expect the government to provide an update on this work as soon as possible.”

British Airways’ one-way flight from Istanbul to Heathrow on Friday evening at 7 p.m. on Thursday was £ 503. An hour earlier it was £ 315.

Poland’s move was widely expected after new infection rates per 100,000 cases rose well above the government’s threshold. At 26, he is still only 40 percent of the 65 rate for the UK. Air links to Poland have proven to be reasonably viable for airlines, notably Ryanair and Wizz Air.

The Dutch Caribbean islands of Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustace were also placed on the banned list, but this note is irrelevant as anyone coming from them would need to transit in Amsterdam, which in itself would trigger 14 days of self-isolation. .

Greece and Italy, which are slightly above the government’s quarantine threshold, have retained the quarantine exemption.

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