Switzerland, Jamaica and Czech Republic added to UK 14-day quarantine list

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Travellers from Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic face two weeks in quarantine, the Transport Secretary said. Grant Shapps said people arriving into Britain from those countries will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from 4am on Saturday. But Cuba has been added to the list of countries exempt from quarantine rules following promising data on Covid-19 cases.

Mr Shapps tweeted: “Quarantining on return from a non-Travel Corridor country is a legal requirement and you commit a criminal offence if you break that quarantine. Fines, as well as a criminal record can result.

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“The decision on whether to add or remove a country is carefully made after research from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

Thousands of Brit travellers face quarantine under the new rules (PA)

“A lead indicator is 20 cases per 100k over 7 days but they take into account a wide range of factors, including level, rate & speed of change in confirmed cases.” The Czech Republic was recording a seven-day rate of 19.4 cases per 100,000, up from 16 a week ago.

Switzerland, which Scotland removed from its “travel corridor” list last week, is also over the danger threshold, with a seven-day rate of 21.2. More than 300,000 British nationals visit the Czech Republic every year, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But a senior official at the Czech Republic’s tourism board said they “deeply regret” the UK’s decision to remove the country from its quarantine exemption list.

Katarina Hobbs, director of CzechTourism UK & Ireland, said: “The Czech Republic remains a safe country to travel to. It will continue to monitor and manage the current situation whilst welcoming visitors to the country. “This is a British Government decision that we deeply regret and hope that the UK Government will reconsider their decision very soon.”

The latest additions of quarantine countries apply in the devolved regions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England. Announcing the move on Wednesday, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “It is important to remember that we remain in the midst of a global pandemic and the situation in many countries can change suddenly.

Grant Shapps announced the move on Thursday (PA)

“With Scotland’s relatively low infection rate, importation of new cases from abroad remains a significant risk to public health. “We continue to closely monitor the situation in all parts of the world and base the decision we make on the scientific evidence available.”

Quarantine countries: The destinations removed from the UK ‘safe list’

Holidaymakers in Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic hoping to beat the quarantine deadline, resembling the mad dash home for Brits from France earlier this month, face a struggle.

All direct flights from Prague to London appear to be sold out. Swiss International Air Lines was selling seats on a flight from Geneva to Heathrow departing on Friday afternoon for GBP493, while flights from Zurich cost GBP377. It comes after the two most popular destinations for Brits, Spain and France, were added to the UK’s quarantine list in recent weeks.

However, Greece and its islands remain quarantine-free for now.

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Gibraltar, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland and Turkey are understood to be among the other areas being closely monitored by officials. The Department for Transport said in a statement: “Infections from Covid-19 are on the rise across Europe. “The Government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus, which includes removing countries from the travel corridors list rapidly, if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.

“This means holidaymakers may find they need to self-isolate on return to the UK and are advised to consider the implications of self-isolation on them and their families before making travel plans.” Patrick Ikhena, head of travel insurance at comparethemarket.com, warned most insurers would no longer provide cover for the three countries removed from the quarantine exemption list. He said a decision to cancel a trip to avoid the mandatory quarantine rules would be considered a “disinclination to travel” and many policies would be unlikely to pay out.

He added: “Contacting your airline or hotel is another sensible course of action if your holiday plans have been scuppered by the latest restrictions, as they may be able to offer you some compensation, or alternative dates and destinations.”

More about: | Grant Shapps | Switzerland | Jamaica | Czech Republic

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