From this Sunday 1 November, travellers arriving into England from the two countries will once again have to undergo two weeks of mandatory self-isolation.
“TRAVEL CORRIDOR UPDATE: We are REMOVING CYPRUS and LITHUANIA from the #TravelCorridor list,” tweeted transport secretary Grant Shapps.
“From 4am Sunday 1st November, if you arrive into the UK from these destinations you will need to self-isolate.”
He added that no new countries would be added to the quarantine-free list this week.
As with previous updates, changes are likely to be reflected in the Foreign Office’s (FCDO) list of “low-risk” countries that are exempt from its blanket advisory against all non-essential international travel.
This means that travellers visiting the destinations scratched from the travel corridors list would most likely invalidate their travel insurance.
The news is another blow to holidaymakers planning getaways to Cyprus for a spot of winter sun.
Cyprus’s current rate of new cases per 100,000 residents accumulated over the last seven days is 111.7 – less than half the UK’s rate of 229.6.
Tourists already in Cyprus have expressed surprise at the decision to remove the country from the quarantine-free list, claiming it feels “safe”.
“I am in Cyprus also and there is no risk,” tweeted Jacob Evans. “You are tested on arrival as well as having to have a negative test before boarding the plane. Mask wearing in hotels is compulsory and even outside. All restaurants with hand sanitiser and hotels enforcing 10 pm curfew on bars.”
Mark Hillman shared a tranquil picture on social media, along with the caption: “This was Cyprus last night. It felt safe, organised and everyone was following the rules. Madness all this.”
The travel industry, which has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the coronavirus pandemic, has expressed disappointment at yet another tourist destination being scrapped.
Abta, the travel association, said: “The industry’s optimism from last week’s good news has been shortlived following the removal of Cyprus from the travel corridor list. Last-minute changes like this further erode consumer confidence in overseas travel and serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need to introduce testing to cut quarantine.
“We need to get people travelling again to support travel businesses and save jobs. The government needs to urgently act on testing, introduce a regional travel corridor approach and lift the global travel advisory against non-essential travel by moving back to country-specific advice.
“If you are due to travel to Cyprus imminently, we strongly recommend you speak to your travel company to understand your options, which may include seeing whether you can change your booking to another destination, like one of the Canary Islands, or postpone your booking for a later date.”
Travel consultant Paul Charles, who has been accurately predicting changes to the travel corridor list since it began, called the latest decision “highly questionable” and “bizarre”.
He tweeted: “The decisions made by Joint Biosecurity Centre are now highly questionable – Germany is moving into mini-lockdown, seen a surge in infections in recent days, yet it’s deemed lower risk than Iceland! And it’s indefensible that Africa still has no travel corridor.”
“It’s bizarre that #UKGov thinks Cyprus is more of a risk to Brits than Germany,” added Mr Charles, explaining that Cyprus hadn’t reported any Covid-related mortalities since early October.
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