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UK travel restrictions: Which countries can I visit without quarantining?

By Eleanor LawrieBBC NewsPublishedduration4 hours agoimage copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionTravellers from some parts of England can go to Germany without self-isolatingPeople entering the UK from most other countries must self-isolate for two weeks. The UK established ”travel corridors” which meant people arriving from certain countries didn’t have to quarantine. Many of these corridors have now been…

By Eleanor Lawrie

BBC News

Published

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionTravellers from some parts of England can go to Germany without self-isolating

People entering the UK from most other countries must self-isolate for two weeks.

The UK established ”travel corridors” which meant people arriving from certain countries didn’t have to quarantine. Many of these corridors have now been suspended, although several Greek islands will regain theirs from Saturday.

Where can I go without quarantining?

The UK and many other countries have put quarantine measures in place as the number of coronavirus infections rises.

This means there are now only a handful of places that travellers from England can visit without encountering restrictions – either when they arrive at their destination, or return.

  • Foreign tourists can fly into Cuba at certain entry points, but will have to quarantine if they enter via Havana
  • Gibraltar
  • Travellers who haven’t recently visited parts of the UK deemed ”high risk” can visit Germany without quarantining
  • Parts of Greece – people entering England from the islands of Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos (Zante) currently must self-isolate. From Saturday at 04:00 BST this requirement will be lifted for all of these apart from Mykonos and Crete.
  • Italy – if you provide a negative coronavirus test result when entering the country, or test negative on arrival
  • Madeira and the Azores – if travellers cannot show proof of a recent negative test, they will be tested on arrival and have to quarantine until the result comes back (about 12 hours)
  • Sweden
  • San Marino – travel is only possible via Italy

Travellers from the common travel area (CTA) – the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man – are exempt from UK quarantine, as are the 14 British Overseas Territories.

However, some parts of the CTA, including Ireland and the Isle of Man, impose restrictions on travellers entering from England.

In several other places – such as Antigua and Barbuda – most travellers must produce a recent negative coronavirus test and may still be required to self-isolate.

There are separate exemption lists for Wales,Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How is the quarantine list decided?

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) – set up by the government to monitor coronavirus – works with the chief medical officers of each UK nation and advises on which destinations should be on the list.

In the past, the decision appears to have been triggered when 20 or more people out of every 100,000 in a country, or island, are infected over seven days, but other factors are also considered. These include:

  • the estimated proportion of the population that is currently infectious
  • trends in the number of cases and deaths
  • information on a country’s testing capacity
  • how much the virus has spread, including clusters of cases and the level of transmission in the community

For example, Turkey has recorded relatively low rates of coronavirus. But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was added to the quarantine list after recording cases “in a different way to the definition used by international organisations” .

The UK’s rate of coronavirus has risen sharply in recent weeks and is now about 137 out of every 100,000 people.

This is higher than many other key holiday destinations on which the UK imposes quarantine restrictions, including Croatia, which has a rate of 42, and Greece, which has a rate of 23.

Why have regional travel corridors been introduced?

Countries can now share more robust and detailed breakdowns of their coronavirus rates.

That’s prompted the UK to introduce regional travel corridors. These allow quarantine measures to be introduced for a country’s mainland, but not its islands, for example.

As a result, travellers to England must quarantine if they return from seven of the Greek islands, or from mainland Portugal.

So far, it has been too difficult to distinguish between mainland areas of a country.

Why can the UK nations make different quarantine decisions?

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Health is a devolved policy, meaning each UK nation sets its own quarantine list. But until recently these have generally been identical.

In early September, Scotland and Wales decided to apply quarantine measures to all, or parts, of Greece after a number of cases of the virus were traced back to travellers from there.

They have also both added Portugal to their quarantine list, after it breached the threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 people.

But England and Northern Ireland did not immediately apply quarantine restrictions to travellers from Greece and Portugal at that point. They have since added areas within those countries.

media captionHow do I quarantine after returning from a holiday abroad?

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.