Britons face virtual worldwide quarantine today after four more countries were taken off the list where holidaymakers can travel without Covid restrictions.
There are now just nine holiday options that don’t include some form of test or restriction; both Greece (except for travellers from Scotland, or those visiting certain islands) and Italy survive, along with the likes of Turkey and Germany.
The widening travel ban came as Iceland, Denmark, Slovakia and Curacao were axed from the UK’s quarantine-free “green list” this afternoon.
From Saturday 4am any traveller from these destinations will have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK.
With most countries still on the UK’s “green list” either requiring self-isolation or negative Covid tests on arrival, it means there are just seven destinations where “air bridges” remain open both ways.
These are Germany, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Greece, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein and San Marino where British travellers can avoid any quarantine or tests in either direction.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said the resurgence of the pandemic had effectively put the world back into quarantine with “little choice for those passionate enough to travel at this time.”
He said the travel industry had been left with just two options: to offer very late bookings or effectively shut down and focus on 2021.
“As the red list gets longer, it makes quarantine redundant because destinations abroad often have more infections than we do. It makes the system pointless and you might as well resort to substantial testing at airports,” said Mr Charles.
Other countries that remain on the UK’s “green list” like Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Finland and Seychelles are closed to travellers, require up to 14 days quarantine or stipulate that they will only allow in arrivals with a negative Covid test result in the previous 72 hours.
In the past two months, Spain, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Malta, Netherlands, Czech Republic and mainland Portugal have all been removed from the UK green list.
The reimposition of quarantine on Denmark and Iceland became inevitable as their covid rates soared to 65.2 cases per 100,000 of the population and 80.4 per 100,000, well above the Government’s “trigger” threshold of 20 per 100,000 for joining the “red list.”
Slovakia is on 24.1 per 100,000 which is still below the UK where the spike in cases has pushed our rate up to 47.3 cases per 100,000 of the population.
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA) said “This reinforces the need for the Government to end the dither and delay and introduce testing now.
“Our industry is on its knees and we urgently need the Government to deliver financial support measures to help our airports survive the challenging winter months, support that we have been calling for since March.
“The Government’s seeming blindness to the plight of the aviation sector risks ending our recovery before it has even begun and their lack of action risks the very future of our world class aviation sector.”
Announcing the redlisting of the four countries, the Department for Transport cited soaring Covid cases, up 921 per cent in a week in Iceland, 508 per cent rise in Denmark, 115 per cent jump in Slovakia and 481 per cent increase in Curacao.
A DFT spokesman said: “The Government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus, including removing countries from the Travel Corridor list rapidly if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.”