Light puffy clouds blanketed the skies over the English Channel yesterday, reminding me of that old saw headline: “Fog Over Channel; Continenet Cut Off.”
Now for British passport holders, the coronavirus pandemic is limiting their freedom to roam. Not as seriously as it is constraining U.S. passport holders, who are presently banned entirely from entering most EU states (as well as other places). Yet since the U.K. is still hanging onto E.U. membership by its fingernails, the freedom of movement of its citizens can throughout the E.U.only be limited, not blocked entirely.
The list of countries that Britons can travel to and return from without quarantining or taking Covid tests reduced to just nine yesterday.
Ministers removed four more nations from the safe list – Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and the Caribbean island of Curacao, with quarantine required on return to the UK from tomorrow at 4am.
While there are still more than 60 countries on the UK’s ‘green list’ where quarantine is not required on return, many have their own restrictions on arrival or are closed to visitors completely.
It means holidays are only currently possible without any restrictions to Germany, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, mainland Greece, Gibraltar, San Marino and Liechtenstein. The last two are so small they don’t have their own airports, meaning just seven true air bridges are in place both ways.
Mainland Greece risks slipping off the list next week as infections there have reached about 20.9 cases per 100,000.
The UK currently maintains a 14-day, self -solation requirement when travelers return fromcountries not presently on a green list of safe countries. These draconian requirements are hammering tourism – a mainstay of many European economies – and have led forcalls to replace it with a more nuanced system of flagging infected returning travellers by on-the -spot tests at airports or other border entrances:
Downing Street remains under intense pressure to change the UK’s travel quarantine rules amid growing fears for the future of the aviation and travel industries.
Ministers have faced calls for months to replace the current 14 day self-isolation restrictions for people returning to the UK from high risk countries with a more nuanced system of airport testing.
Advocates believe testing on arrival could open the door to significantly reducing the two week quarantine period to potentially less than seven days.
A double testing approach would see travellers tested on arrival and then told to self-isolate for something like five days when they would then be tested for a second time.
Two negative tests would be enough to allow people to end their period in quarantine and return to normal life.
However, ministers have been reluctant to approve airport testing because of concerns that the approach could fail to identify some people who have the virus.
This is because of the amount of time it can take for the virus to be detectable after the moment of infection.
But many MPs believe the current blanket approach to travel quarantine cannot continue for much longer because of the damage it is doing to the aviation sector.
The extensive list of no-go destinations means demand for autumn getaways in Turkey and Italy have risen dramatically amid dwindling options for would-be travellers looking for breaks over the October half-term period. Yet with the government announcing tough new restrictions on pubs and restaurants this wee3k, is is unlikely to relax rules on returning tourists anytime soon.