The Canary Islands, the Greek island of Mykonos, the Maldives and Denmark were tonight opened to Britain’s quarantine free travel list.
Arrivals from the four areas will no longer face a 14-day quarantine from Sunday after Covid-19 cases fell to acceptable levels, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.
Jet2 and easyJet announced will resume flights to the hugely popular Canaries and Mykonos from next week as traffic to the Skyscanner flights website increased by 137 per cent in the 30 minutes following the 5pm announcement.
But visitors from the tiny Alpine tax haven of Liechtenstein, a country with no airport which is nestled between Switzerland and Germany, face self-isolation from 4am on Sunday after being taken off the travel corridor list.
The move has raised the hopes of travel industry bosses who anticipate a surge in late holiday bookings in time for the half-term break and ahead of Christmas.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Following an assessment of the latest data, the Canaries, the Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos have been ADDED to the #TravelCorridors list. From 4am on Sunday October 25, you will no longer need to self-isolate if you arrive from those destinations.’
The DfT said data from Liechtenstein showed that the weekly cases per 100,000 have increased by 276 per cent rom 65.1 on October 14 to 244.9 on October 21.
The changes apply to citizens from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The Foreign Office still advises against all but essential international travel.
The Canary Islands, the Greek island of Mykonos, the Maldives and Denmark were tonight opened to Britain’s quarantine free travel list
Arrivals from the four areas will no longer face a 14-day quarantine after cases of coronavirus fell to acceptable levels, the Department of Transport said (file photo)
But visitors from the tiny Alpine tax haven of Liechtenstein, a country with no airport which is nestled between Switzerland and Germany , face self-isolation from 4am on Sunday after being taken off the travel corridor list (file photo)
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Following an assessment of the latest data, the Canaries, the Maldives, Denmark and Mykonos have been ADDED to the #TravelCorridors list’
All tourists and short-term visitors to the Maldives must present a negative Covid-19 test result on arrival, while the test and negative certificate must be issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure.
They should fly with British Airways direct if they wish to avoid self-isolating upon arrivals, according to travel expert Paul Charles.
Travellers entering Spain from the UK will not be required to self-isolate, though they must provide the Ministry of Health with mandatory contact information and any history of exposure to coronavirus 48 hours prior to travel.
Visitors to Mykonos will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before travel. This is currently the only requirement for UK arrivals.
And rules on entry to Denmark depend on whether you are arriving from an ‘open’ country or a ‘banned’ country.
The UK is a ‘banned’ country, meaning travellers must have a ‘worthy’ purpose to enter if you are arriving into Denmark from the UK.
Travel companies, which have seen demand slump due to government quarantine rules, welcomed the decision on the Canaries.
Jo McClintock, brand director at Skyscanner, told MailOnline: ‘The Canaries are a popular mainstay for British travellers, preCovid-19 the islands offering year-round sunshine regularly featured in our top ten booked destinations.
‘The addition of the Canaries to the quarantine exemption list ahead of the English half term holidays will be well received by our travellers. In fact, the UK to Spanish islands was the most requested route in a recent survey with UK Skyscanner users regarding the most desired route for travel restrictions to be removed.’
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, the UK’s largest operator to the Canaries, said it will recommence flights and holidays to the Islands from next Friday.
The leading leisure airline and package holiday specialist will resume flights to Tenerife as well as Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, from all nine of its UK bases (Belfast International, Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle and London Stansted).
Jet2 boss Steve Heapy said: ‘We welcome today’s announcement and we know that our customers, who want to get flying again, will do so too.
‘For some time we have been calling for a proportionate, evidence-based approach to safe travel and this is very much a step in the right direction. There is much to do still, and we look forward to working with government to achieve that.’
‘The Canary Islands are hugely important, both for us as a business and for our customers as a much-loved holiday favourite.
‘We know how much our customers want to get away for some winter sun in the Canaries, and they can do this again from October 30th onwards.
‘As the UK’s leading operator to the Canary Islands, we will be restarting with a programme that offers customers fantastic choice and flexibility, as well as all the award-winning benefits that they know and love.’
Travel companies, which have seen demand slump due to government quarantine rules, welcomed the decision on the Canaries (file photo)
A spokesman for easyJet said: ‘We welcome the announcement from the UK government that the Canary Islands and Mykonos have been added to the list of quarantine exempt countries for British travellers.
‘This will mean many of our customers will be able to take a winter sun break to these popular islands or reschedule a holiday that they’ve been unable to take this summer as a result of the last minute changes to quarantine restrictions.
‘As a result we will be putting additional flights on sale in the coming days from our airports across the UK.
‘Customers can also head to the Canary Islands on a full package holiday from £289 per person with easyJet holidays bookable on the holidays website with the first departures from 2 November following this latest change in travel advice.
‘We continue to encourage the Government to take a lead in moving to testing, as well as the approval of new testing technologies, as soon as possible as effective testing is crucial to get people flying again.’
Industry body Airlines UK said: ‘The Canaries are a hugely important market for winter travel – representing over 50 per cent of bookings for some tour operators – so this is very welcome news for the whole sector.’
Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK & Ireland, said the reintroduction of the Canary Islands to the travel corridor list was a ‘positive step’ for both the business and holidaymakers seeking a winter break.
He said: ‘We haven’t been able to take people on a Tui holiday to the Canary Islands for 89 days, when the sudden quarantine and subsequent travel advice was imposed with little notice.
‘We’re therefore delighted that UK flights will now resume from Saturday October 24. The first flights will depart to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote this weekend, with many more added in the coming days.
‘We urge the Government to continue to work closely with the industry on airport testing so we can open up more destinations in the coming weeks. We must move away, where possible, from the anxiety our industry faces waiting for the new list of places people can travel to each week.
‘This level of uncertainty is damaging for business and all those employed in our industry.’
A spokeswoman for travel trade organisation Abta said the announcement was ‘a bit of light at the end of a very dark tunnel for the travel industry’.
She continued: ‘We have been highlighting the need to move to a regional approach to quarantine, citing the Canary Islands as a specific example, so it is good to see the Government take action on this today.
‘But we must remember that the pandemic brought foreign travel to a standstill and for most companies there has been little or no chance to start a recovery.’
Derek Jones, chief executive of tourism firm Kuoni, also welcomed the addition of more countries to the Government’s travel corridor list.
He said: ‘This is a very welcome development. We are anticipating a surge in demand for Maldives holidays.
‘The Maldives is already outperforming every other destination we sell for next year, currently accounting for almost half of our bookings for 2021, and today’s news means that an even quicker getaway is now possible.
‘After months of seemingly endless bad news for holidaymakers, having both the Maldives and Canary Islands on the safe corridor list will be welcomed by anyone still dreaming of a winter sun break over the next few months.’
Earlier this month, Mr Shapps launched a taskforce to develop methods of reducing the 14-day isolation period for people arriving from non-exempt locations.
He said the Government was considering a ‘test and release regime’ which would still involve a quarantine period of at least a week.
Today, British Airways’ parent company IAG announced it would operate fewer flights than planned for the rest of the year as coronavirus restrictions continued to hit demand.
The group said its flight capacity from October to December would be no more than 30 per cent of what it was over the same period in 2019.
It reported a £1.2billion loss during the past three months.