Cyprus has been put on the red list of quarantine countries, forcing holidaymakers returning to the UK from the island to self-isolate for 14 days.
Half-term holidaymakers from the mediterranean island and also Lithuania will have to return to Britain before 4am on Sunday to avoid quarantine which has been imposed by the Government after an increase in their Covid-19 rates.
Cyprus, which last year welcomed four million tourists, has seen its coronavirus rate soar to 111.7 cases per 100,000 of the population, well over the normal threshold for the imposition of quarantine. Lithuania was also added to the quarantine “red list” yesterday.
But Germany, which announced a second “soft” lockdown this week, remains quarantine-free despite widespread speculation that it would be added to the red list with a covid rate of 107.2 cases per 100,000.
All three countries, however, have lower covid rates than the UK ‘s 229.6 cases per 100,000.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “It doesn’t add up that countries are still being added to the quarantine list when their rates are lower than the UK’s and the Government’s own statistics show virtually no-one is bringing covid into the UK.”
A survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week found that the infection rate among those who travelled abroad in the past 30 days is roughly the same as that for people who stayed in the UK.
The move will be a major blow for Cyprus whose economy is heavily reliant on tourism. In June 2020, usually amongst the busiest months of the year, tourism was down more than 90 per cent with just 22,000 arrivals, forcing the closure of hundreds of hotels and restaurants across the island.
Next week Boris Johnson will consider proposals to introduce testing for international arrivals from”red list” countries that could free travellers from quarantine after seven days, if they are negative for Covid.
The testing, that could open up travel corridors on key trade routes like New York-London, could be in place by December 1 in time for Christmas under the proposals by the taskforce, which is headed by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, and Matt Hancok, the Health Secretary.