Holidays to five Greek islands are back on after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps unveiled the latest changes to the Government’s travel quarantine ‘red list’.
Mr Shapps said travel from Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Santorini and Zakynthos will no longer require self-isolation upon arrival back in England from this weekend.
He also revealed that no countries are being added to the ‘red list’ this week.
The news was met with open arms to some Brits looking to enjoy the final weeks of the Greek islands’ holiday seasons, as one Twitter user wrote: ‘Get me on a plane to Zakynthos asap.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced that five Greek islands are being added to the Government’s travel corridors list
Last week Mr Shapps added Turkey and Poland to the quarantine list as well as the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba.
Mr Shapps tweeted this evening: ‘TRAVEL CORRIDOR UPDATE: We are ADDING Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Santorini and Zakynthos to the #TravelCorridor list this week.
‘From 4am Saturday 10th Oct, if you arrive from those Greek islands, you will NO LONGER need to self-isolate. We are not REMOVING any countries.’
UK visitors to Italy MUST take a Covid test
Italy has introduced compulsory coronavirus testing for UK visitors.
Minister of health Roberto Speranza announced that arrivals from European countries ‘at greater risk for Covid-19’ – such as the UK, France and Spain – must provide evidence of a negative test taken in the 72 hours prior to travel.
Visitors unable to provide proof of a negative result at the border have to take a test in Italy.
Some airports offer free tests, while others may cost around £11. Travellers will not be allowed to leave until they have received their result.
Anyone who tests positive is quarantined until two consecutive negative results are recorded.
Italy trialled a coronavirus swab test in July that can give results in as little as 15 minutes.
Health chiefs in Rome hope the rapid diagnostic test, made by South Korean firm SD Biosensor, will be used at airports to screen tourists for the infection.
It has already been used on 1,000 people in the northern region of Veneto giving an incorrect result twice, in comparison to the standard swab test.
He added: ‘REMINDER: You MUST complete a Passenger Locator Form by law if you enter the UK from ANY location (travel corridor or otherwise) to protect public health and help keep everyone safe.’
Brits took to Twitter to welcome today’s announcement, as some voiced their relief that their holiday destinations remained safe, while others were pleased to see the addition of the Greek islands.
Matty Adams wrote: ‘Now your allowed to go to Santorini without self isolating who is tempted lol.’
Within 90 minutes of Mr Shapps’ announcement, one woman declared: ‘I booked Santorini’.
One fan of the Transport Secretary wrote: ‘Get me on that plane tomorrow, Grant my boy.’
Another simply asked: ‘Zante anyone?’
Mr Shapps’ announcement came the day after the Government launched a task force to develop a Covid-19 testing system for travellers arriving in the UK.
The Government said the group will ‘identify options to reduce the self-isolation period while protecting public health’.
Anyone arriving in the UK from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days unless they have travelled from an exempt destination.
The UK’s travel sector has repeatedly called for testing at airports to be introduced as a way of reducing quarantine periods for those who get a negative result.
Mr Shapps said: ‘The current measures at the border have saved lives.
‘Our understanding of the science now means we can intensify efforts to develop options for a testing regime and help reinvigorate our world-leading travel sector.
‘This new task force will not only help us move towards safer, smoother international travel as we continue to battle this virus but will also support global connectivity – helping facilitate more Covid-secure travel whilst protecting the population from imported cases.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘It is vital we do everything we can to control the spread of the virus and our measures at the borders are designed to help keep the country safe, by preventing imported cases of Covid-19.
‘We know how these measures have a significant impact on people’s lives and on the travel and tourism industries, so we are working hard across Government to explore ways to open up international travel in a safe way.’
The Global Travel Taskforce will assess the feasibility of travellers being released from quarantine early after paying a private sector firm for a single Covid-19 test following a period of self-isolation.
The group will be jointly chaired by Mr Shapps and Mr Hancock, and will look at how a testing operation could be rolled out.
It will consult with the aviation, travel, healthcare and coronavirus testing sectors, and is expected to make initial recommendations next month.
The chief executives of Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airports Group, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic said in a joint statement that the creation of the task force represented a ‘step in the right direction’.
Hopes for an airport testing breakthrough this week look set to be dashed after ministers decided to launch another review of the issue. The coronavirus testing facility at Heathrow is pictured above
‘We support the decision to opt for a single test, private sector-led, passenger-funded approach, that does not impact on the NHS in any way,’ they said.
‘But travellers need a firm commitment that a comprehensive testing regime will be implemented in early November.
‘A test on day five, which the Government’s own conservative evidence said would be “highly effective” and which they’re already doing in Germany, should be the starting point.
‘Without a rapid move to testing, the UK will fall even further behind our competitors and the economic recovery will fail to get off the ground.’