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People returning from Austria, Croatia and Trinidad and Tobago will have to quarantine for 14 days after the countries were dropped from the UK’s list of safe travel corridors.
It follows a sharp rise in cases of Covid-19 and after the Joint Biosecurity Centre flagged that some UK infections may have been imported from Croatia.
The popular holiday destination of Portugal has been added to the “travel corridors” safe list, however, after it saw its Covid numbers fall.
Scotland has also added Switzerland to its list of quarantine countries.
The changes to the travel corridor lists will come into force at 4am on Saturday, both governments have confirmed.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and ministers had carefully examined international infection data.
Shapps, who had to quarantine for 14 days after his own holiday in Spain, said: “As with all air bridge countries, please be aware that things can change quickly.
“Only travel if you are content to unexpectedly 14-day quarantine if required. I speak from experience.”
He said ministers and the JBC examined the estimated prevalence of Covid-19 in a country; the level and rate of change in the incidence of confirmed positive cases; the extent of testing in a country, the testing regime and test positivity; the extent to which cases can be accounted for by a contained outbreak as opposed to more general transmission in the community; government actions and “other relevant epidemiological information”.
Officials said the decision to add the three countries to the quarantine list was based on a “significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases”.
The weekly incidence per 100,000 people for Croatia has increased from 10.4 on August 12 to 27.4 on August 19 – a 164% increase.
In Trinidad and Tobago cases have increased over the past four weeks, with a sharp 232% spike in the number of cases per 100,000 people between August 12 and 19.
In Austria, the weekly number of cases per 100,000 of the population has increased from 10.5 on August 13 to 20.3 on August 20, a 93% increase.
The news is likely to anger holidaymakers, however, who face either a race against time to get home or isolation for two weeks.
Steve Davies, from Yeovil, Somerset, is on holiday in Drasnice, Croatia, and said quarantining when he returns will cost him up to £1,200 in unpaid wages.
“Which is more than the cost of the holiday,” the 50-year-old, who works as a production supervisor for Leonardo helicopters, told the Press Association.
“The announcements are a shambles with little warning to return. Why can’t the government work two weeks ahead on these announcements?
“I refuse to be panicked and I will not return early. It’s safer here than where I am in the UK.”
Editor’s note. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that travellers returning to anywhere in the UK from Switzerland would have to quarantine. The rule only applies to Scotland.