British holidaymakers have been seen scrambling to airports in Croatia in a bid to get home before they face a two-week quarantine on their return to the UK.
In scenes similar to those seen in French airports and ferry terminals last week, tourists were spotted in their numbers at Croatia’s Split Airport yesterday, as the rush begins to get home by Saturday’s deadline.
Around 20,000 British tourists are thought to be in Croatia currently.
The pictures were taken hours after the UK government announced Croatia, along with Austria and Trinidad, would be taken off the quarantine-free travel list – meaning tourists will be forced to quarantine for a fortnight on their return.
The decision comes following a spike in cases in each of the three countries.
Portugal meanwhile has been put on the list, meaning tourists will be allowed quarantine-free travel to popular holiday destinations, such as the Algarve, from Saturday.
But yesterday Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned holidaymakers to ‘only travel if you are content to unexpectedly quarantine’, after he himself was caught out when the government rapidly changed its advice over travel to Spain while he was on holiday.
Split airport in Croatia was busy last night as the scramble to return to the UK before quarantine comes in began
Around 20,000 British tourists are thought to be in Croatia currently. They have until Saturday 4am to get back to the UK, or face a two week quarantine
The pictures were taken hours after the UK government announced Croatia, along with Austria and Trinidad, would be taken off the quarantine-free travel list – meaning tourists will be forced to quarantine on their return
The decision comes following a spike in cases in each of the three countries. Pictured: Passengers wait to go through check-in at Split Airport
Referencing his own experience, in which he was left facing a two week quarantine when his department suddenly added Spain to the quarantine list in July, Mr Shapps warned any air bridge could be axed at short notice.
In a tweet today, in which he announced Croatia, Austria and Trinidad would be added to the Government’s ‘red list’, and Portugal taken off, Mr Shapps said: ‘Data shows we need to remove Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN.
Flight prices to Portugal rocket SIXFOLD just hours after country is taken off quarantine list
Flight prices from the UK to Portugal have gone up SIXFOLD just hours after the government announced it was bringing in an air bridge with the popular holiday destination.
Average fare prices to Faro – the airport used by holidaymakers heading to the Algarve – rocketed from just £35 to £190 in the hours after the announcement was made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today.
One website showed a BA flight fare from London to Faro had jumped from £90 to £580 – with a claim it had been reduced from £594 – in a day.
Google searches by MailOnline also showed one BA round trip from London to Faro, leaving this Saturday – the day the quarantine rule is lifted for Portugal – and returning next Saturday – costing £1,069.
Prices from London to Faro have also spiked for travel this Sunday, while flights to Lisbon, another popular city break destination, have also rocketed since the announcement, from around £55 to £185, according to Google.
One exasperated holiday-hopeful said on Twitter: ‘And instantly the holidays prices go up to Portugal!’
‘If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
‘Data also shows we can now add Portugal to those countries INCLUDED in Travel Corridors.
‘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!)’
It comes as the Transport Secretary today said spikes in infection in the three countries added to the quarantine list meant they could no longer be treated as safe destinations.
Figures released by Department for Transport (DfT) indicate that the weekly incidence (cases) per 100,000 for Croatia increased from 10.4 on August 12 to 27.4 on August 19, a 164% increase.
Over the same period, Trinidad and Tobago saw a 232% increase in weekly incidence per 100,000, while Austria had a 93% increase between August 13 and August 20 (from 10.5 per 100,000, to 20.3).
However, Mr Shapps said the latest data showed Portugal could now be added back to the safe list of countries which people can travel to without having to quarantine for 14 days when they return.
The updated travel advice will come into force from 4am on Saturday this weekend.
It comes as prices for flights from quarantine nations rocketed following the announcement by Mr Shapps, with British Airways advertising tickets for an early Friday morning flight between Zagreb, Croatia to London at 308 euro (£276) for economy class.
Similarly, the airline was on Thursday night advertising an economy seat on a flight from Vienna to London Heathrow for 538 euro (£482).
Today’s Portuguese travel chiefs welcomed the move to add Portgual to the quarantine-free list as ‘useful for all those who travel between Portugal and the United Kingdom’.
In a tweet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Portugal, said: ‘This decision is proof of the good outcome of intense bilateral work.
‘It allowed for an understanding that the situation in the country has always been under control, with Portugal standing as one of the European countries with more tests, fewer deaths and fewer hospitalisations.’
Grant Shapps today announced that Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago have all been added to the Government’s quarantine list
Britain records 1,182 more Covid-19 cases as rolling average rises slightly after dropping for four days in a row
Britain today recorded 1,182 more Covid-19 cases as government figures revealed the rolling average number of daily infections has risen slightly after dropping for four days in a row.
Department of Health data released this afternoon showed 1,051 Britons are now testing positive for the life-threatening disease each day, on average.
For comparison, the rolling average yesterday was 1,043 and it had been falling every day since August 15, when the figure reached a six-week high of 1,097.
It does not necessarily mean that infections are on the rise again, however, and may merely be a blip in the data. Infection rates in the coming days will help paint a better picture of the virus’ current trajectory.
Daily infections had risen consistently since the start of July following ‘Super Saturday’ — the first major easing of lockdown, which top scientists warned would inevitably trigger a surge in cases. It spooked Boris Johnson into ‘squeezing the brake pedal’ on re-opening parts of the economy late last month.
But casinos, bowling alleys and beauticians were finally allowed to re-open this week after No 10 grew confident that Britain was not hurtling towards another crisis reminiscent of the darkest days of the first wave in April.
Neither hospital admissions or deaths — two other ways health bosses track the disease — ever spiked in line with cases, giving experts confidence that infections were only ever on the up because more testing was being carried out in badly-hit areas such as the North West.
England today also announced six more Covid-19 deaths — taking the official number of victims since the pandemic began to 41,403. By contrast, 16 deaths were declared yesterday across Britain and 18 last Thursday.
Just eight infected patients are succumbing to the illness every day, on average — the first time the rolling mean has dropped into single figures since before lockdown was imposed on March 23.
Meanwhile, consumer group Which? said the change in rules for Portugal was ‘likely to come too late to help many struggling holiday companies’.
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland told the BBC that the government had ‘now made it clear that countries can be removed or added from the travel corridor list at a moment’s notice’.
He said: ‘That policy currently makes it too risky for anyone who is not able to quarantine for 14 days on return to travel anywhere abroad.’
‘Yet, those holidaymakers who want to heed the government warning to not undertake non-essential travel to Spain, France and now Croatia and Austria are finding it increasingly difficult to claim a refund.
He added: ‘The addition of Portugal is likely to come too late to help many struggling holiday companies who are at the point of collapse, as summer trips have already been cancelled.’
Following the announcement, holiday firm Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said it will resume its flights and holidays programme to Faro, in Portugal’s Algarve, from Monday.
It will then have multiple weekly flights departing from all nine of its UK bases.
The move to add Croatia to the quarantine list comes after mountain speculation that the Mediterranean country would be added to the UK’s so-called ‘red list’ this week after an uptick in case numbers.
There are around 20,000 British tourists currently in Croatia, experts predict.
Darija Reic, the Croatian tourist board’s UK representative, said placing Croatia on the quarantine list is ‘very disappointing’, while Mato Frankovic, Mayor of Dubrovnik, a popular destination for UK tourists, said the city was still safe for tourists.
He told Sky News: ‘I do hope those British citizens who want to come to Dubrovnik still do, and I want to send a very strong message that Dubrovnik is a COVID-safe town.’
He added that tourists immediately started to cancel hotel room bookings in the city when the quarantine was announced.
Meanwhile, expectations of all non-essential travel to the country being banned increased this morning after the World Health Organisation said the Balkans region is a ‘hotspot’ for coronavirus.
The WHO said the Balkans have been a ‘concern of ours since early June’ because of an increase in case numbers as it urged the region to impose additional measures to ‘nip transmission in the bud’.
Mr Shapps said a ‘range of factors’ had been taken into account by ministers and officials when deciding which countries to add to the quarantine list.
Holiday firm Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said it will resume its flights and holidays programme to Faro, in Portugal’s Algarve, from Monday
In a tweet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Portugal, said: ‘This decision is proof of the good outcome of intense bilateral work.
He said they included ‘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’.
The decision to require travellers returning from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago to self-isolate for 14 days came as Germany, France, Italy and Spain all reported their highest number of coronavirus infections in months, raising concerns that a second wave could be hitting the continent.
Germany recorded 1,707 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April, while authorities in France said ‘the transmission of the virus is accentuating’.
Spain has recorded a new single-day record for Covid-19 cases since the country emerged from a three-month lockdown in mid-June.
Dr Catherine Smallwood told a WHO press conference this morning: ‘The situation in the Balkans has been a concern of ours since early June when we started to see cases increase and it’s been very much a sub-regional hotspot over the summer period.’
She added: ‘We really need communities to take this on board, take the adequate steps both at a country level, in terms of the basic contact tracing, case identification and isolation and testing the systems that need to be in place.
‘And then where there are hotspots and increased transmission, additional, targeted measures need to be brought in place, very quickly, to nip transmission in the bud, stop it from spreading and keep the level of transmission at controllable levels.’
Croatia has seen an upsurge in coronavirus cases over the past week and yesterday the Adriatic nation posted numbers which almost matched its highest point in August.
The numbers were being closely monitored by the Department for Transport and the Foreign Office.
Croatia currently has a cumulative rate of 27.4 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven day.
The UK Government has set a threshold for imposing quarantine restrictions at 20 cases per 100,000.
Fears had been raised that Greece could also be added to the banned list as its case numbers increase but it is still below the threshold at 14.3 cases per 100,000.
The updated travel advice came as there were signs of a potential second wave of coronavirus on the continent.
Germany has fared better than many of its European neighbours in suppressing the virus so far but like elsewhere its number of cases has jumped significantly over the summer holidays.
Much of the rise has been blamed on returning holidaymakers as well as parties and family gatherings.
The latest figures, from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, bring to 228,621 the number of infections in the country since the start of the pandemic.
It takes the daily toll back to a level not seen since late April, when the pandemic was considered to be at its peak.
The UK Government remains under intense pressure to ease its 14 day quarantine rules.
Airlines and the travel industry believe the restrictions could be slashed by introducing coronavirus testing on arrival at airports.
This would see travellers asked to self-isolate until they get their test results, with a negative test and a follow up a number of days later, allowing them to return to normal life.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that ministers are working with Heathrow Airport to find a way for coronavirus testing to reduce the quarantine period.
He told Sky News: ‘We’re working with Heathrow and with other airports on this project.
‘The challenge is because the virus can incubate inside your body without coming forward and without therefore a test being positive even if you’ve got it.
‘The challenge is how to do that testing in a way that we can have confidence enough in to release the quarantine.’