Travellers from Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic will have to quarantine for 14 days
Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic have been removed from the government’s quarantine exemption list, due to a rise in coronavirus cases.
Anyone entering the UK from those destinations after 4am on Saturday must quarantine for 14 days, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced.
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.
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.”
Mr Shapps also revealed that Cuba has been added to the list of destinations people can return from without entering quarantine.
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.
He tweeted: “Quarantining on return from a non-Travel Corridor country is a legal requirement and you commit a criminal offence if you break that quarantine. Fines, as well as a criminal record can result."
He added: “The decision on whether to add or remove a country is carefully made after research from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
"A lead indicator is 20 cases per 100k over 7 days but they take into account a wide range of factors, including level, rate & speed of change in confirmed cases.”
The DfT advised British travellers in Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic to “follow the local rules and check the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) travel advice pages”.
It 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.
People hoping to return to the UK on Friday before the quarantine requirement is introduced face a struggle.
All direct flights from Prague to London 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.
Patrick Ikhena, head of travel insurance at comparethemarket.com, warned most insurers would no longer provide cover for the three countries removed from the quarantine exemption list.
He said: “Switzerland, Jamaica and Czech Republic are the latest countries to be slapped with travel restrictions, with many UK holidaymakers likely to see their travel plans disrupted.
"The restrictions apply to the whole country, even those areas with low infection rates, and as a result this unfortunately means that most travel insurance policies will no longer provide cover to Switzerland, Jamaica and Czech Republic.”
He said a decision to cancel a trip to avoid the mandatory quarantine rules would be considered a “disinclination to travel” and many policies would be unlikely to pay out.
He added: “Contacting your airline or hotel is another sensible course of action if your holiday plans have been scuppered by the latest restrictions, as they may be able to offer you some compensation, or alternative dates and destinations.”
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.”