Croatia and Austria added to UK's quarantine list

20 August 2020, 17:08

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago have been added to the UK's 14-day quarantine list, while Portugal has been removed.

The move means that British holidaymakers returning from the three countries must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the UK from 4am on Saturday.

However, Brits travelling to Portugal will no longer need to self-isolate upon their return, opening up the possibility for a getaway in the popular holiday destination.

The three now-exempt countries have joined Spain, France and the Netherlands in being added to the UK's quarantine list following a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Other countries the UK has removed from its safe travel corridor list include Belgium, Monaco, Malta and the Turks and Caicos islands.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who had to quarantine for 14 days after a holiday in Spain, said: "As with all air bridge countries, please be aware that things can change quickly.

"Only travel if you are content to unexpectedly 14-day quarantine if required (I speak from experience!)"

Officials said the decision to add the three countries to the quarantine list was based on a "significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases".

Croatia's seven-day average has almost tripled from 10.4 per 100,000 people last week (12 August), to 27.4 this week (19 August).

Trinidad & Tobago has seen a 232 per cent spike in the number of cases within that same time period, while Austria has seen its seven-day average almost double from 10.5 per 100,000 on 13 August, to 20.3 on 20 August.

Croatia is one of the countries that has been added to the UK's 14-day quarantine list
Croatia is one of the countries that has been added to the UK's 14-day quarantine list. Picture: PA

The decision to remove the countries from the travel corridor list comes as another blow for Brits wishing to get away for a summer break this year.

It will leave thousands of UK nationals scrambling to return home by 4am on Saturday, as was the case when France and the Netherlands were added last week.

Steve Davies, from Yeovil, Somerset, is on holiday in Drasnice, Croatia, and said quarantining when he returns will cost him up to £1,200 in unpaid wages.

"Which is more than the cost of the holiday," said the 50-year-old, who works as a production supervisor for Leonardo helicopters.

"The announcements are a shambles with little warning to return... why can't the government work two weeks ahead on these announcements?

"I refuse to be panicked and I will not return early: it's safer here than where I am in the UK."

Mr Davies is travelling on to Poland, which is exempt from the quarantine rules, on 25 August and then Britain on 30 August.

According to government rules, this means he would need to isolate for nine days on his return, taking him to 14 since leaving Croatia.

Over the weekend, Mr Shapps revealed that any nation with more than 20 cases per 100,000 for a period of seven days or more will likely lead to a country being added to the quarantine list.

Brits will not be stopped travelling to the affected countries, but quarantine will be mandatory for anyone returning to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not advising holidaymakers who are already in the listed countries to leave immediately.

Instead, people are instead being asked to follow local rules, return home as normal and check the travel advice pages on gov.uk for further information.

The FCO has advised British nationals against "all but essential travel" to the countries on the quarantine list.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said travel insurance will remain valid for people who are already in the quarantined countries until they return home.

However, those who travel to the listed countries after the FCO advice has changed would "likely" find their insurance invalid, the ABI said.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab previously said no worker following quarantine guidance should be penalised by employers, including by being put onto sick pay.

He said that if someone is following the law in relation to quarantine and self-isolating, "they can't have penalties taken against them".

Mr Shapps said a range of factors are taken into account when the Joint Biosecurity Centre and ministers make their assessment of a country's status.

These include: estimated prevalence of Covid-19 in a country; the level and rate of change in the incidence of confirmed positive cases; the extent of testing in a country, the testing regime and test positivity; the extent to which cases can be accounted for by a contained outbreak as opposed to more general transmission in the community; government actions and "other relevant epidemiological information".

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