Jamaica, Switzerland and Czech Republic added to UK quarantine list as coronavirus cases increase

Cuba is added to list of travel corridors

Helen Coffey
Thursday 27 August 2020 18:12 BST
Air Bridges: Countries you can visit in Europe without quarantine on return to the UK

Jamaica, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have been taken off the UK’s quarantine-exempt list after the three countries reported a surge in coronavirus cases over the past week.

Anyone arriving in the UK from these countries after 4am on Saturday 29 August will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

The Foreign Office has also updated its advice to warn against all non-essential travel to the three destinations.

The transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, confirmed that, while these countries were being removed, Cuba will be added to the list of quarantine-exempt travel corridors following a fall in the Covid-19 infection rate.

“Data shows we need to remove the Czech Republic, Jamaica and Switzerland from our list of coronavirus travel corridors to keep infection rates DOWN,” he wrote on Twitter.

“As with all air bridge countries, please be aware that things can (and do sometimes) change quickly. Only travel if you are content to unexpectedly 14-day quarantine on return.”

He confirmed that a key factor in determining whether a country stays on the quarantine-exempt list is the number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people recorded in the previous seven days.

If this number hits 20 or above, the destination is at risk of being removed from the list.

However, Mr Shapps added that the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which is responsible for coordinating the UK’s Covid-19 response, takes into account “a wide range of factors, including level, rate and speed of change in confirmed cases”.

Based solely on the number of cases per 100,000, travel consultant Paul Charles correctly predicted which countries would get the chop the day before the announcement.

He said: “Wednesday update: Switzerland continues to be above @transportgovuk case number criteria. Jamaica and Czech Republic on the edge of the red zone.”

Switzerland had 22 cases per 100,000 at the time it was removed from the travel corridors list, while Jamaica and Czech Republic had 20.8 and 20.2 respectively.

The latest change to the list follows several weeks of turbulence, as popular holiday spots including France, Austria, the Netherlands, Malta and Croatia have all been taken off at short notice, leaving holidaymakers racing to get home before the quarantine deadline.

The travel industry has repeatedly called on the government to adopt a more “nuanced” approach – including testing, tracing and the introduction of regional travel corridors – rather than the current blanket-quarantine policy.

At present, all travellers entering the UK must undergo a compulsory 14-day self-isolation, unless they are arriving from one of the select countries on the Department for Transport’s travel corridors list.

“Quarantining on return from a non-travel corridor country is a legal requirement and you commit a criminal offence if you break that quarantine,” said Mr Shapps. ”Fines, as well as a criminal record can result.”

It comes after the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) warned that the UK is set to lose £700 per second during 2020 through the absence of visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic and associated travel bans.

The WTTC claimed that the predicted £22bn cost to the economy of missing tourists and business travellers this year is partly due to “continuing uncertainty around travel restrictions”.

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