Tens of thousands of would-be holidaymakers have been left disappointed – and facing a knotty insurance claim process – after the government reintroduced a 14-day quarantine for travellers returning from Portugal, Hungary, Réunion and French Polynesia today, and seven Greek islands including Crete, Santorini and Zante earlier this week.
Over the past couple of months, the British government has also reimposed quarantine restrictions for travellers returning from Switzerland, Jamaica, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Austria, Trinidad and Tobago, France, the Netherlands, Malta, Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium, Andorra, the Bahamas, Aruba, Monaco and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Travellers returning from any of those countries must provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days (or risk a fine of up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or £480 in Scotland). During those two weeks, they cannot go to work, school or any public place, nor have visitors – except for essential support.
So which badly-afflicted countries could be next? Grant Shapps, the British transport secretary, suggested on August 14 that any country recording more than 20 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period could lead to quarantine measures being reintroduced.
‘With France and these other countries, Netherlands and elsewhere, the numbers have now just gone above the threshold, which is about 20 cases per 100,000, but measured on a seven-day rolling average,’ Shapps told the BBC.
At that point, the cumulative number of cases per 100,000 over 14 days (a different but comparable measure) stood at 34 in France and 42 in the Netherlands, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Looking at updated figures, countries still on the travel-corridor list that appear to have levels approaching those of the UK right now include Ireland (37) and Italy (32). Greece’s cumulative number of cases has nearly quadrupled in just over a month, from seven to 26 per 100,000 – suggesting the mainland and other Greek islands could soon join the seven already on the UK’s ‘quarantine’ list. (The UK figure is rising fast too, now at 37.)
Another indication as to future removals, meanwhile, is whether Scotland or Wales have acted first in taking a country off their own travel-corridor list (as Scotland did, for example, in the case of Spain). As of last week, anyone flying from Greece to Scotland must now also quarantine. This suggests England may soon follow suit.
As for the other countries, if those trajectories continue, then it is possible the government could bring back a travel quarantine. So basically: think very carefully (and look hard at the stats) before you book a foreign holiday in the weeks and months to come.