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Switzerland, Jamaica and Czech Republic removed from quarantine-free list

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that travellers arriving in England from those countries after 4am on Saturday will need to self-isolate.

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Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic have been removed from the Government’s quarantine exemption list due to a rise in coronavirus cases (Steve Parsons/PA)

Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic have been removed from the Government’s quarantine exemption list due to a rise in coronavirus cases (Steve Parsons/PA)

Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic have been removed from the Government’s quarantine exemption list due to a rise in coronavirus cases (Steve Parsons/PA)

Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic have been removed from the Government’s quarantine exemption list due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that travellers arriving in England from those countries after 4am on Saturday will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said equivalent measures are being put in place in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Scotland took Switzerland off its list last week.

Reductions in coronavirus cases mean Cuba has been added to the destinations from which people can arrive in England or Wales without entering quarantine, while Wales has also removed the quarantine requirement for arrivals from Singapore.

Katarina Hobbs, director of tourism authority CzechTourism UK and Ireland, insisted that the Czech Republic “remains a safe country to travel to”.

She said: “This is a British Government decision that we deeply regret and hope that the UK Government will reconsider their decision very soon.

“We continue to provide important information to tourists who are visiting – which includes avoiding crowded areas and following the strict rules that have been implemented by the Czech Republic government.”

A seven-day rate of 20 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people is the threshold above which the UK Government considers triggering quarantine conditions.

The DfT said there has been a “consistent increase” in the rate in Switzerland over the past four weeks, reaching 22.0 on Thursday.

It added that Jamaica’s rate rose from 4.3 on August 20 to 20.8 on Thursday, while the Czech Republic has seen “a consistent increase in newly reported cases” over the past three weeks, with a 25% spike from 1,723 between August 14-20 to 2,153 during the following seven days.

British travellers in Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic are advised to “follow the local rules and check the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) travel advice pages”.

Holidaymakers may find they need to self-isolate on return to the UK and are advised to consider the implications of self-isolation on them and their families before making travel plans.Department for Transport

People hoping to return to the UK before the quarantine requirement is introduced face a struggle.

All direct flights from Prague to London on Friday appear to be sold out.

Swiss International Air Lines was selling seats on a flight from Geneva to Heathrow departing on Friday afternoon for £493, while flights from Zurich cost £377.

Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said the Government’s decision to review its quarantine policy each week is leading to holidaymakers being “held to ransom by airlines to purchase new flights at extortionate fares”.

He went on: “The Government should be transparent with its data and decision making on travel corridors so holidaymakers have the information they need in advance to decide whether it is safe to travel.”

The DfT said in a statement: “Infections from Covid-19 are on the rise across Europe.

“The Government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus, which includes removing countries from the travel corridors list rapidly, if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.

“This means holidaymakers may find they need to self-isolate on return to the UK and are advised to consider the implications of self-isolation on them and their families before making travel plans.”

PA