People arriving in England from Italy, San Marino and Vatican City State will be expected to self-isolate from tomorrow as the nations are removed from the UK quarantine safe list.
Anybody touching down after 04:00 tomorrow will be asked to remain at home for 14-days.
Data has indicated the weekly cases and test positivity are increasing in Italy and so ministers have taken the decision to remove the destinations.
However, the Greek island of Crete has been added to the travel corridor list following a decrease in confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to Italy and San Marino.
The island of Crete is now exempt from the global advisory against non-essential travel.
Penalties for those breaching the self-isolation rules when returning from non-exempt countries have increased from £1,000 for first offence up to £10,000 for subsequent offences.
The decision to remove Italy, in particular, from the safe list has been greeted with dismay in the travel sector as it was one of the free remaining major tourism destinations on offer to British travellers.
An ABTA spokesperson said: “The removal of Italy from the travel corridors list is a major blow for many winter operators in the UK travel industry, and again demonstrates that travel businesses are effectively being forced to close by the government’s measures to control coronavirus – yet, unlike other sectors such as hospitality, travel has received no sector specific support.
“As the furlough scheme winds down, it is vital that the government focuses on restarting travel and that tailored support is made available for travel businesses.
“Recovery of travel depends on the urgent introduction of a testing regime, which will provide an additional mitigation to keep destinations open, as well as fully regionalised travel corridors, and a move back to country specific Foreign Travel Advice.
“Without these measures, we will continue to see travel businesses failing and tens of thousands more jobs will be lost.”
Authorities in Italy also raised concerns about what the decision might mean for the local tourism sector.
Flavio Zappacosta, Italian Tourist Board manager for UK & Ireland, said: “It is, of course, very disappointing to learn of the announcement that Italy has been removed from the safe travel list.
“Our cities, coasts, countryside and major attractions are world class and we have implemented robust protocols to keep our visitors safe so this is a very disappointing development for tourism in Italy and will surely delay our recovery.
“Tourism is one of our most important industries and key to the nation’s recovery from the terrible impact of Covid-19.
“We would like to see testing at UK airports implemented as soon as possible as this could help alleviate the quarantine issue and establish consumer confidence once more in visiting such a popular destination as Italy.”
In contrast, tourism insiders in Crete were celebrating the news.
Ilias Kokotos, director of Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts, commented: “We are absolutely delighted that the UK has now formed an air bridge with Crete, and we are expecting a significant increase in bookings following this new partnership.
“Crete is a very popular Greek destination for British travellers and the lifting of quarantine restrictions enables guests to return and experience the end of the season.
“At present, the region of Elounda is extremely safe with less than ten cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic, and none in the last 45 days.
“At Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts we offer relaxing, luxury accommodation that enables our guests to unwind, reconnect and create lifestyle memories – which is exactly what we all need during this difficult time.”
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