Rising rates of Covid-19 mean that Cyprus and Lithuania have lost their travel corridors to the UK, transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed via Twitter.
He tweeted: “We are REMOVING CYPRUS and LITHUANIA from the #TravelCorridor list.
“From 4am Sunday 1st November, if you arrive into the UK from these destinations you will need to self-isolate.
“We are NOT adding any countries to the list of TRAVEL CORRIDORS this week.”
An Abta spokesperson said: “The industry’s optimism from last week’s good news has been short-lived following the removal of Cyprus from the travel corridor list. Last-minute changes like this further erode consumer confidence in overseas travel and serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need to introduce testing to cut quarantine.
“We need to get people travelling again to support travel businesses and save jobs. The government needs to urgently act on testing, introduce a regional travel corridor approach and lift the global travel advisory against non-essential travel by moving back to country specific advice.”
The Advantage Travel Partnership reacted in a tweet, saying: “Bad news tonight with Cyprus coming off the government’s safe list announced just now, with nothing coming on either.
“We had our fingers crossed for Jamaica this week too, seems like the winter sun options remain limited for now.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, tweeted in reaction: “@transportgovuk review adds #Cyprus #Lithuania to the #quarantine list – #Cyprus has seen a 400% increase in infections in the last two weeks but no mortalities since early #October. It’s bizarre that #UKGov thinks #Cyprus is more of a risk to Brits than #Germany.”
Charles added: “The decisions made by #JointBiosecurityCentre are now highly questionable – #Germany is moving into mini-lockdown, seen a surge in infections in recent days, yet it’s deemed lower risk than #Iceland! And it’s indefensible that #Africa still has no travel corridor.”
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “With yet more countries removed from the travel corridor list, the government’s approach and the lack of clarity around how decisions are made continues to cost holidaymakers dearly.
“While many families would have been scheduled to fly home from Cyprus this Sunday as the half-term draws to a close, they will now be forced to pay extortionate air fares as they scramble for flights that arrive before the 4am deadline.
“The travel industry has endured a turbulent year and trust in the sector is at rock bottom.
“It is in desperate need of reform and support from the government if it is to survive the next few months.”
The Telegraph said the change would impact hundreds of British holidaymakers on the island.
“The loss of a travel corridor will hit Cyprus hard. Tourism is a driving force for its economy, with the UK a key market, and revenue from overseas arrivals already plunged by 90% in the summer,” said the newspaper.
EasyJet Holidays confirmed it would suspend its Cyprus holidays following the announcement, and would contact customers about options including rebooking to an alternative destination or receiving a refund.
Matt Callaghan, customer director, said “It’s our mission to make sure our customers have safe, comfortable and enjoyable holidays, so we will cancel all upcoming holidays to destinations where the FCDO advises all but essential travel.
“We share how disappointing this news will be that we’ve had to cancel holidays to Cyprus. We know just how much people look forward to winter sun holidays, so we’re pleased that following last week’s announcement our affected customers still have the option to book a break to the Canary Islands.”
Lithuania was taken off the green list too, although it is already forcing UK arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Industry observers had hoped that other destinations would be added to the travel corridor list, including Egypt, Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
The news comes as France and Germany prepare to go into lockdown measures amid a spike in Covid-19 cases across Europe.
It had been thought that Germany and Sweden might have been added to the list for quarantine rules.
The Department for Transport said: “Data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England has indicated a significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of coronavirus in both destinations [Cyprus and Lithuania], leading to ministers removing these from the current list of travel corridors.
“A range of factors are taken into account when deciding to remove a country from the exemption list, including the continued increase of coronavirus within a country, the numbers of new cases, information on a country’s testing capacity, testing regime and test positivity rate and potential trajectory of the disease in the coming weeks.
“There has been a consistent increase in Covid-19 cases per 100,000 of the population in Cyprus over the last two weeks, with a 79% increase in total cases over this time period. In Lithuania, new cases per week have increased by 47% over the same time period.
“At the same time, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has also updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to Cyprus and Lithuania
“These changes reflect the latest assessments by Public Health England of the risk to travellers in each of these destinations.”
Elsewhere, the Swiss government has lifted the requirement for UK travellers to quarantine upon arrival in Switzerland.
However, the need to quarantine upon arrival back in the UK remains unchanged.
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