Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Italy added to travel quarantine list after record day of cases

Italy is the latest country to be added to England’s travel quarantine list, along with San Marino and Vatican City, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

The country recorded its highest daily number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 7,332.

That brings its seven-day rate of cases per 100,000 people to 64 – way above the 20 threshold after which the Government considers triggering quarantine conditions, but more than 2.5 times less than the UK rate. Meanwhile, Crete has now been removed from the quarantine list, from Saturday morning.

Last week no countries lost their exemptions to travel corridors, amid a rise in domestic cases – with the UK’s case rate currently standing at 166. But now there are warnings that Europe is becoming a ‘no-go zone’ for travellers. 

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘Europe and the Med have almost become no-go zones if you want to avoid quarantine on your return.

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‘The current quarantine system should now be replaced by an effective traveller testing programme, mixed with a very short quarantine period.

‘This would help business and leisure travel recover as we learn to live with coronavirus. 2020 is a washout for the travel sector and the Government needs to focus on strong revival for early 2021 and beyond.’

Changes to the Government’s list of destinations from which arrivals in England do not need to enter quarantine are usually announced every Thursday at 5pm, and implemented the following Saturday at 4am. But Italy’s quarantine will come in at 4am on Sunday, Mr Shapps announced on Twitter.

The devolved nations have their own exemption lists which are similar but not identical.

The removal of Italy’s exemption will come as another major blow to the UK travel industry, since it was one of its last big markets that could be visiting without returning holidaymakers being forced to self-isolate. 

Last week Italy introduced compulsory coronavirus testing for arriving UK visitors.

Arrivals from European countries including the UK, France and Spain must provide evidence of a negative test taken in the 72 hours prior to travel.

Those unable to provide proof of a negative result at the border have to take a test in Italy.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade organisation Abta, expressed fears that more travel firms could go bust in just weeks due to the pandemic.

He said at least 20 travel companies with UK operations have already collapsed since March.

The case rates are calculated by the PA news agency based on data collected by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

This is a breaking story – more to follow.

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