Fears grow that Croatia will be added to ‘red list’ but airport test could be game-changer


Britons are facing a desperate scramble to get home from Greece and Croatia as fears continue to grow that the European nations could be added to the quarantine ‘red list’ within days.  

Greece has seen a significant rise in the number of new cases – from 202 last week to 226 yesterday – while Croatia has now gone above the UK Government’s quarantine benchmark of 20 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period. 

Fears that the countries could be added to the quarantine list come as ministers desperately try to control the spread of the pandemic and a possible second wave.  

Greece has seen a rise in new cases – from 202 last week to 226 yesterday – while Croatia has now gone above the UK Government’s quarantine benchmark of 20 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period. The graph shows the number of cases being diagnosed per million people every day – not per 100,000 people every week

Data shows that France is still recording significantly more coronavirus cases each day than other nations on the quarantine list - but it is home to six times more people than Greece

Data shows that France is still recording significantly more coronavirus cases each day than other nations on the quarantine list – but it is home to six times more people than Greece

Croatia is expected to be added to the Government's quarantine 'red list' within days after a rise in cases

Croatia is expected to be added to the Government’s quarantine ‘red list’ within days after a rise in cases

An estimated 500,000 raced to return home from France before the 4am Saturday deadline for quarantine that was announced barely 30 hours earlier

An estimated 500,000 raced to return home from France before the 4am Saturday deadline for quarantine that was announced barely 30 hours earlier

Italy closes nightclubs for three weeks and orders masks to be worn in public at night

Italy is to shut discos and clubs for three weeks and make it compulsory to wear a mask outdoors in some areas at night after an increase in new Covid-19 cases.

The new rules mark the first reimposition of coronavirus restrictions as cases pick up across the country, especially among younger people.

New cases in the past week in Italy, the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus, were more than double those registered three weeks ago and the median age of people contracting the virus has dropped below 40, data showed.

The new rules will start on Monday – two days after an Italian holiday when many young Italians go out dancing – and will run until early September.

Masks will be required between 6pm and 6am in areas close to bars and pubs and where gatherings are more likely.

It also comes amid mounting anger over the shambolic way the Government has handled travel rules during the pandemic.

Ministers are being urged to replace the disastrous 14-day quarantine system with a ‘game-changer’ virus test at airports, before more countries are put on the red list.        

Other holiday destinations could also be added if – like Spain and France – they have a sudden second spike in infections that catches travellers unawares.

An estimated 500,000 raced to return home from France before the 4am Saturday deadline for quarantine that was announced barely 30 hours earlier.

Ministers had previously encouraged people to take holidays to places such as Spain and France as part of a return to normal life.

But hundreds of thousands of travellers were then caught out when the rules changed while they were away, requiring a 14-day quarantine on their return.

Suggestions that Greece and Turkey might be added to the red list have been rejected by travel industry experts. However, such reports have created further confusion, which has hit bookings.

There are also hopes that Portugal, where infection rates are falling, could be removed from the red list this week.

But Croatia has now gone above the UK Government’s quarantine benchmark of 20 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period at 21.5. 

Other nations such as Denmark and Switzerland are also perilously close to reaching that limit.

To avoid further confusion and disruption, travel industry experts are calling for the UK to adopt £50 tests that have been introduced at airports in Iceland.

Advocates of the tests say they would open up international travel, give confidence to holidaymakers and dramatically reduce scarring to the industry and wider economy. 

Croatia has now gone above the UK Government’s quarantine benchmark of 20 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period – at 21.5

Croatia has now gone above the UK Government’s quarantine benchmark of 20 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period – at 21.5

EU figures showed the Greek infection rate had quadrupled in two weeks, soaring past the benchmark of 20 Covid cases per 100,000 people

EU figures showed the Greek infection rate had quadrupled in two weeks, soaring past the benchmark of 20 Covid cases per 100,000 people

Coming back to the UK: No dog walks or shops

British holidaymakers coming back from France will have to go to the supermarket before they arrive home under tough quarantine rules.

Hardline regulations will also see them told not to walk their dogs and instead get neighbours to help them while they stay in for 14 days.

A Government told the Telegraph if there is no possible way of getting food then people should go to the supermarket once on the way home from the airport.

Travellers to Iceland have the option of pre-booking the swab test on arrival instead of going into quarantine for 14 days.

These visitors are required to self-isolate for five days before taking a second test, which is free, at a medical centre. If both are clear, the individual can return to normal life. 

These visitors are required to self-isolate for five days before taking a second test, which is free, at a medical centre. If both are clear, the individual can return to normal life.

The net effect of the system is to reduce total quarantine to less than seven days.

It emerged over the weekend that this exact idea of two tests for people arriving from red list countries had been suggested to the UK Government by experts on the Sage committee two months ago.

Minutes from the scientific advisory group show that it asked Public Health England to consider a double-testing policy.

The plan would have allowed people to finish quarantine within one week. 

… But we were stymied by a dog!

Garden designer Faith Ramsay’s husband and son flew back from their holiday in Siena, Italy, when France was put into quarantine.

But as they had taken their dog Ellie on the trip, the 49-year-old had no choice but to drive 900 miles through France, along with ten-year-old daughter Lara.

Faith Ramsay, 49, had to drive 900 miles through France from Siena, Italy, with her dog Ellie and ten-year-old daughter Lara

Faith Ramsay, 49, had to drive 900 miles through France from Siena, Italy, with her dog Ellie and ten-year-old daughter Lara

Arriving at Calais in good time, it looked as though the family – from Swallowfield, near Reading – was going to make it.

Yet last minute paperwork complications scuppered her plan because British veterinary officials told her she could not bring in Ellie – since the dog had not been given a worm tablet. ‘I have driven for 15 hours straight but now it’s apparently all in vain because of the lack of a deworming tablet that I didn’t even know we needed,’ she told the Sunday Times.

However, no action on testing has been taken.

Heathrow has been running trials where arrivals have the option of paying £150 for two tests.

Travel expert Paul Charles, of the PC Agency, called the current system ‘ridiculous’.

He suggested the Government should adopt the Icelandic testing scheme and subsidise it to bring down the cost to £50.

‘We have to bring this system to the UK as soon as possible,’ he said. ‘We cannot go on with this 14-day quarantine system, which is unworkable and causing anxiety among consumers who are losing money.

‘Adopting this Iceland system here would be a game-changer. It is far better than the damage and scarring being done to the economy by quarantine measures.’

He added: ‘Other countries seem to be far more advanced in dealing with the virus. The £50 tests would save the whole travel sector and allow business and others to freely move around.

‘There are three million jobs at risk in the travel and hospitality industry in the UK alone. Now is the time to change course.’

Mr Charles rejected reports over the weekend that Greece and Turkey are about to be added to the red list.

‘They are nowhere near being added. No chance at all,’ he said.

He said the seven-day figure for Greece is 13.4 infections per 100,000 people, with Turkey at 10.3 – compared with 11.0 here.

Italy appears to be the safest option at the moment with a figure of just 5.5.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has questioned the value of airport testing, but suggested the idea is under review.

On Friday, he said: ‘Testing on return is something that we’ve always said we’d keep a very close eye behind the science on those things.’

He said that carrying out a single test – rather than two – would only detect 7 per cent of cases. 

We made it back with 2 mins to go 

Relieved Bernard Rust and his partner Sarah Holloway barely beat the clock – with their car rolling off a ferry at Newhaven with a mere two minutes to spare.

Financial adviser Mr Rust, 60, who had stayed in La Rochelle for a week, said it was fortunate that he was already booked to return on the ferry from Dieppe due back in the nick of time.

It arrived so he could drive off at 3.58am.

Bernard Rust and his partner Sarah Holloway made it back from France with a mere two minutes to spare

Bernard Rust and his partner Sarah Holloway made it back from France with a mere two minutes to spare

‘We knew it was scheduled to get back at 4am but what if we were delayed by a minute?’ he told the Mail on Sunday.

‘I called the Government’s Covid hotline and asked them what does being in the UK mean – does it mean being in UK waters? They said it means when I’m in the UK region. They didn’t seem to have a satisfactory answer and they didn’t put our minds at ease.’

Mr Rust, from East Sussex, called up other ferry firms to try to get an earlier crossing but found that they were fully booked.

It left him with no choice but to go ahead with his booking – and keep his fingers crossed.

‘Normally I try and get a couple of hours’ sleep, but there was no chance,’ he said after reaching Britain just in time.

‘I kept going up to the top deck to see if I could see land and finally I could see Newhaven harbour at 3.30am.

‘I thought, ‘Blimey, we’re going to make it’.’



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