Coronavirus: Which European countries could be removed from the UK's list of safe holiday destinations?

040820 Coronavirus airport
British holidaymakers face a £1,000 charge if they fail to self-isolate after arriving from a foreign country that is not on the exemption list. Credit: PA

Summer plans for thousands of British holidaymakers have been thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic.

At the start of lockdown, the government was advising against all but essential travel to almost every country in the world, meaning thousands of plans were cancelled.

With the lifting of lockdown some countries became safe holiday destinations, according to the government, and people again began to book trips.

But cases of Covid-19 are beginning to rise again, with spikes in Europe resulting in Spain and Luxembourg being removed from the UK's list of safe countries.

The government has warned it will react "rapidly" to any spike in cases and it is likely more countries will be removed from the safe list and added to the list of destinations from which returnees must quarantine for 14 days.

The UK's coronavirus rate is by no means the lowest in Europe, but at 14.3 per 100,000 it is relatively low.

Here are the European countries with the highest rates of coronavirus currently, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:


When Spain was removed from the list of safe countries - after thousands of Brits had arrived there - the country's coronavirus rate per 100,000 was 50.7.

Despite the best efforts of Spanish authorities, which have imposed several localised lockdowns, the country's infection rate per 100,000 people for the past 14 days now stands at 68.6, as of August 4.

Those coming back from Spain will have to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return to the UK. Credit: AP

When the country ended its three-month lockdown, people were encouraged to cautiously resume their lives by adapting to a new normal.

But fresh outbreaks among young people and farmers have cause Spanish health experts to speculate that the country is experiencing a "second wave" of coronavirus.


The highest coronavirus rates in Europe are currently in Luxembourg.

When the country was removed from the UK's safe list, its coronavirus cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days was 240.6.

Luxembourg was removed, the UK government said, after it saw a "tenfold increase in total cases" since the end of June.

The country has managed to reduce its coronavirus rate in the latest figures, but it is still much higher than other European countries.

Luxembourg's infection rate per 100,000 people for the past 14 days now stands at 205.1, as of August 4.


The popularity of Croatia as a holiday destination for Brits has improved in recent years and it surged in June when the coronavirus-free country opened its borders to tourists.

Since then, cases of Covid-19 have risen.

Last week there were rumours that Croatia was about to be added to the UK's quarantine list, with its rate per 100,000 at 23.8.

The case rate has sank slightly since then, to 22.7 per 100,000 over the last 14 days, as of August 4.

After reports of concerns over Croatia, the mayor of Dubrovnik Mato Frankovic, wrote to Boris Johnson to ensure tourism can continue.

"The total number of positive Covid-19 cases from the area of the city of Dubrovnik is three, and currently over 8,000 tourists are in our city", he said.


Malta was hoping it could be Europe's party destination, providing a raft of summer music festivals to fill the gap left by the closure of clubs in Ibiza.

That aim could not be realised after four festivals due to take place this month were cancelled amid a rise in coronavirus cases on the islands.

The infection rate there per 100,000 over the past 14 days is 26.7, as of August 4.

As such, festivals Escape 2 The Island, Rhythm + Waves, BPM Festival: Malta and Mi Casa Festival have all been cancelled.

Organisers said the festivals couldn't "take place in a safe manner".


Cases have been rising in France and its two-weekly infection rate has surpassed the UK's at 21.7 per 100,000 people, up from 17.7 on July 30.

France also reacted to Spain's spike in cases by advising its citizens to avoid travelling to the hotspot of Catalonia.

And in an attempt to keep numbers down, while allowing tourists to enter, France has began a testing regime on arrivals who cannot prove they're Covid-19 free.

The French government has so far ruled out imposing another nationwide lockdown but it is believed to be considering local restrictions.

Face masks are compulsory on all forms of public transport in the country but there is a wide variation in the regions on rules for wearing masks in shops and restaurants.


The coronavirus rate in Germany is relatively low, at 10.8 per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, but that number has risen from 8.0 on July 30.

The country has been viewed as a success story in its fight with coronavirus, but it has experienced an uptick since the reopening of shops, restaurants and other parts of the economy.

Despite concerns over spikes, thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin on Saturday to protest against restrictions, such as the compulsory wearing of face masks and social distancing.

Germany’s national disease control centre registered 955 new cases Friday, a high figure by recent standards.

“Thousands of #covidiots are celebrating themselves in Berlin as ‘the second wave,’ without distancing, without masks,” tweeted Saskia Esken, a co-leader of the Social Democrats.

“They are not just endangering our health, they are endangering our success against the pandemic and for the revival of the economy, education and society. Irresponsible!”


The Mediterranean country managed to avoid having a serious outbreak and has managed to keep its infection rate at 6.8.

The country is wary of bringing in more cases from foreign arrivals and requires every foreign arrival to fill out a Passenger Locator Form.

The form asks for information on who they're travelling with, where they're going and their home address.

Masks are also required either by staff or customers in most indoor public spaces.


The epicentre of Europe's outbreak at the outset of the pandemic has managed to keep cases under control since emerging from lockdown.

Face coverings have been made compulsory in several European nations - including the UK - in various settings. Credit: PA

The infection rate per 100,000 people for the past 14 days stands at 6.0.

Some areas are seeing signs of a resurgence, with residents of Rome recently being warned a local lockdown could be imposed.

Lombardy, which was the hardest hit area of the country at the start of the pandemic, still accounts for the highest number of cases in Italy.


Officials are also concerned about a steady rise in the infection rate in Belgium.

The rate stands at 47.9 per 100,000 people from the past 14 days.

The situation there is being monitored closely by UK officials looking to adjust quarantine rules if required.


The eastern European nation is usually an extremely popular destination for British holidaymakers.

However, according to the Foreign Commonwealth Office, Bulgaria is not considered safe, with cases there comparably high.

Bulgaria currently has a coronavirus infection rate of 47.9 per 100,000 over the past 14 days.

For Brits to begin holidaying there again, there will need to be a severe reduction of coronavirus cases.

Notable coronavirus rates per 100,000 in European countries:

  • Romania - 81.7

  • Spain - 68.6

  • Belgium - 47.9

  • Sweden - 29.0

  • Czechia - 27.3

  • Portugal - 27.2

  • Iceland - 21.3

  • Holland - 20.3

  • United Kingdom - 14.3

  • Cyprus - 13.4

The government is regularly updating the list of countries exempt from quarantine, with five more added on July 28 – Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

British holidaymakers face a £1,000 charge if they fail to self-isolate after arriving from a foreign country that is not on the exemption list.