UK quarantine list: could Greece and Italy be next?

Simon Calder
·2-min read
Danger zone? Rome may be a candidate for the next no-go announcement (Simon Calder)
Danger zone? Rome may be a candidate for the next no-go announcement (Simon Calder)

As the UK’s rate of new coronavirus infections soars to six times the government’s high-risk threshold, the last remaining Mediterranean holiday spots look under threat of being added to the “no-go” list.

The Independent has calculated that when the latest European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) figures are released later on Wednesday, the UK may leapfrog France.

After several days of recording very high numbers of Covid-19 cases, including thousands of temporarily “lost” positive tests due to a spreadsheet problem, the UK’s rate of new infections per 100,000 people is now 125.

The threshold the Department for Transport (DfT) and Foreign Office use to signify locations of “unacceptably high risk” is 20.

Other factors considered by ministers and health officials include the reliability of data, the proportion of tests that yield positive results and action taken by governments to limit the spread of the virus.

The DfT says of quarantine-exempt nations: "We will keep the conditions in these countries, territories and regions under review. If they worsen we will reintroduce self-isolation requirements.”

Last weekend, both Poland and Turkey were placed on the no-go list. Although Turkey’s figures are well below the threshold, the government expressed concerns about inconsistencies with international norms.

Italy is currently at 27, though there is hope that it might escape what has been described as “a travel ban in all but name” because of low positivity rates in the tests taking place.

Greece, which is at 23, is already regarded as too dangerous by Scotland, with the other UK nations imposing quarantine from a scattering of islands. They include Crete, where cases of coronavirus have dwindled to almost nothing.

But increasing infection on the mainland have increased concerns that the whole country could be placed on the no-go list by England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sweden, at 32, is also a likely candidate for quarantine to be re-imposed.

Meanwhile anger is growing among travel businesses specialising in Africa about the UK government’s continuing refusal to countenance tourism to any country on the continent.

Nations such as Rwanda and Tunisia have been singled out by European government as low risk, but the UK has so far rejected appeals to reconsider its blanket ban.

Paul Goldstein, co-owner of the Kicheche safari camps in Kenya, said: “The double whammy of unjustified Foreign Office advice and quarantine is crippling millions of people.

"It is not based on geography, maths or certainly science. People want to travel and cannot. There should be testing for arrivals at Heathrow like there is in other countries.”

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