The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that from 4am on Wednesday all travellers heading to England will have to quarantine for 14-days.
Travellers and holidaymakers who are on the islands of Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and Zakynthos will now have to quarantine from Wednesday.
Shapps told MPs in the House of Commons, “It is worth noting that the policy will not necessarily open up additional islands immediately.
“For example, when we removed Spain from the travel corridor list there were 24 cases per 100,000. Today there are 127 cases and it remains too high in the Balearic and Canary Islands as well.
“On the other hand, Greece remains within our travel corridor programme, but our new analysis shows that some of the islands are well outside of the parameters.”
Shapps added, “However, using our newly-acquired JBC (joint biosecurity centre) data we are now in a position to remove Greek islands where holidaymakers are at risk of spreading the new infection back home, and seven Greek islands will therefore be removed from the travel list at 4am on Wednesday 9 September, whilst maintaining mainland Greece.”
Shapps further told MPs that a new “island policy” is being introduced. He said that due to JBC data they have the capacity to add and remove specific islands from quarantine while still “providing maximum protection to the UK public quarantine.”.
Shapps told ministers that they now have the “data and capacity” to remove different islands from quarantine if the evidence warrants it.
However, the government will not introduce regional restrictions with a specific country.
“The JBC and this government are therefore at present unable to introduce regional travel corridors from within the geographical boundaries of a nation-state,” he says.
“However, when a region has natural boundaries like an island, for example, the risk diminishes significantly.
“That presents us with a real opportunity. Our passenger locator form, combined with NHS Test and Trace, will give us a clear picture, and has been starting to give us a clear picture, of exactly where infections are coming from.
“As a result, I can today announce a new islands policy.
“For the first time we have the data and the capacity to add and remove specific islands from quarantine while still providing maximum protection to the UK public.”
Shapps said that the government are also looking into reducing the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
In a statement he told MPs, “We are working actively on the practicalities of using testing to release people from quarantine earlier than 14 days.
“For the reasons described, this could not be a pure test-on-arrival option, it would not work, but my officials are working with health experts with the aim of cutting the quarantine period without adding to infection risk or infringing our overall NHS test capacity – which also now needs to cater to schools going back and universities returning.
“The islands policy itself becomes actively immediately and I will, of course, update the House on quarantine testing in the coming weeks.”
Shapps warned all British travellers, that if they cannot quarantine then they should consider not travelling.
He told the Ccmmons, “Travel is something which we all must do with a degree of eyes open and accepting the risk at this time.
“As I mention again from this despatch box, people will need to think carefully when they travel as to whether if a country does suddenly end up in quarantine, and I explained with some the of examples like Jamaica it can happen very quickly, that they are able to quarantine afterwards.
“Otherwise it might be best not to travel and that’s a judgment that everybody will make.”