Half of ‘travel corridor’ countries remain closed to Brits despite government announcement

PUBLISHED: 10:07 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:59 06 July 2020

Grant Shapps at the latest daily press briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: BBC.

Grant Shapps at the latest daily press briefing in Downing Street. Photograph: BBC.

Archant

The government has been accused of ignoring coronavirus restrictions in other countries after it emerged a list of “approved” places Britons could travel to are actually barring foreigners from entering.

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The Department for Trade (DfT) released a “travel corridor” list of 59 locations Britons could travel to without needing to quarantine on return, however only 27 of those are allowing travellers in freely, the Sunday Times reports.

From Friday, English holiday-goers are now able to vacation in countries like Italy, France, Greece, Australia, and New Zealand, among others.

Mediterranean beach in touristic town Alassio on italian Riviera, Italy; GETTY: XANTANAMediterranean beach in touristic town Alassio on italian Riviera, Italy; GETTY: XANTANA

However, a number of destinations on the department’s list are have stringent coronavirus restrictions in place, with some even turning away new arrivals.

Authorities in Cyprus - a popular spot for British sunseekers - is barring anyone from the UK entering. Those seeking to holiday in Australia and New Zealand will need a special exemption visa upon landing, on top of having to self-isolate for a fortnight.

Border officials in other destinations are requiring travellers to undergo health checks at airports, or while others are stopping passengers who cannot prove they have had negative coronavirus test results in the four days leading up to landing.

Travel operators have blasted the government’s lack of oversight, saying the new list is at odds with advice set out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

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Noel Josephides, chair of Sunvil - a tour company specialising in get-aways in Greece and Cyprus said the conflicting advice was “highly confusing” for travellers.

“We have two different sets of advice - it is very odd,” he said. “It’s as though government departments don’t actually speak to each other. All we want is one list.”

Paul Charles, a travel consultant, who led the Quash Quarantine campaign that sought to end a 14-day isolation for new UK entrants, said the conflicting advice was warding off holidaymakers.

“There is utter confusion: the two lists do not tally and consumers are going to be extremely confused. Currently, people have to check both lists, the government website for the entry requirements and also contact the country they want to visit to make sure the information is up to date,” he said.

He added: “Travellers would find it hard to navigate the maze of options... [They] won’t book as it’s so confusing. We have already seen bookings slow down.”

A source from the DfT said the lists focus on different factors. The FCO’s travel advice centres around health care in countries being visited while DfT measures concern the risk of travellers bringing the virus back into the country.

Commenting on what the confusion was doing to the industry, Josephides said: “Each delay of a day is probably costs us a week in bookings. The clients that booked before the pandemic have steadily cancelled or deferred, because of the uncertainty and the on-off messages that we’ve been getting.”

He continued: “The problem is that the government does not understand how the industry works. We can’t just started operating, like turning on a switch.”

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