Will Greece be added to the quarantine list? Latest guidance as Greek islands including Crete and Mykonos added to England list
Travellers arriving in England from seven Greek islands will have to self isolate for 14 days.
Scotland officially added Greece to its quarantine list following a “significant” spike in Covid-19 cases. In Wales, people returning from Zante are also being asked to self-isolate for two weeks after seven cases were discovered on a flight on 25 August.
Turkey and Poland are the latest countries to be removed from the safe travel list.
This means visitors returning to the UK from these countries will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
This is what you need to know about the current situation with Greece.
Will Greece be added to the quarantine list?
The UK government has announced that travellers returning from seven Greek islands will have to self isolate upon for two weeks upon return with the new rules coming into force on Wednesday 9 September at 4am.
The islands affected are Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos (also known as Zante).
The government states that the islands can be treated differently from mainland Greece due to the differences in infection rates.
The entirety of Greece has been added to the quarantine list in Scotland – the change came into force at 4am on Thursday 3 August, meaning that travellers returning to Scotland after this time will be required to self isolate for two weeks, no matter what part of Greece they are arriving from.
Wales have also introduced similar quarantine measures to England, asking travellers returning from six Greek islands to isolate – Crete, Mykonos, Zaknythos (or Zante), Lesvos, Paros and Antiparos.
In Northern Ireland, no quarantine measures for those returning from Greece is in place.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps admitted that the differences in UK quarantine rules are “confusing” for travellers.
Talking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Shapps said that Scotland “sort of jumped the gun” by introducing restrictions for those arriving from anywhere in Greece.
The government has shown that countries can be added to the quarantine list at short notice with its previous decision to reintroduce quarantine measures for those returning from Spain.
Junior health minister Helen Whately previously told Sky News: “We have to keep the situation under review and I think that is what the public would expect us to do.
“If we see rates going up in a country where at the moment there is no need to quarantine, we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk of coronavirus being spread again across the UK.”
The UK government website states that the list of countries exempt from quarantine rules is “under constant review to take into account the latest situation in each country” and that the list could change.
How many coronavirus cases are there in Greece?
Initially, it appeared that Greece had a good handle on the Covid-19 pandemic, with Johns Hopkins University stating that the country had seen just over 4,200 cases since the start of the pandemic, and with 202 deaths.
However, since Greece welcomed back holiday goers by opening its borders to international travellers on 1 July, infections have started to rise.
On 8 August, 203 new infections were recorded - this being the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.
Another 126 infections were then announced on 10 August, by Greece’s public health watchdog.
Officials are blaming the increase in cases on overcrowding in bars, clubs and social events.
Gkikas Magiorkinis, assistant professor of hygiene and epidemiology at Athens University told The Guardian that Greece is “formally” in the midst of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
What new restrictions have been introduced in Greece?
The Greek government has introduced a late night curfew on bars and restaurants in popular holiday destinations.
Venues will have to close from midnight until 7am, as the health minister, Vassilis Kikilias, said that the infection curve was “rising dangerously”.
The new restrictions were implemented on Tuesday 11 August and were supposed to last until Sunday 23 August, but it appears to be getting extended until further notice.
Destinations including Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Crete, Rhodes, Zakynthos, Kos are all affected, according to spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni in a televised address.
If you’re travelling to Greece, you must complete an online Passenger Locator Form at least 24 hours before arriving at the airport to travel to Greece, otherwise you may not be allowed to travel.
Many UK holiday-goers have reported not being allowed to board their flight because they were unaware that they had to fill out the form beforehand.
Have other countries been added to the quarantine list?
Portugal was added to England’s quarantine list, only a few weeks after it had been added to the safe list. The changes come into effect from 04:00 BST on Saturday 12 September.
Already Wales and Scotland have imposed a mandatory two-week quarantine on travellers returning from Portugal.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps made the announcement about England’s new rules on Thursday 10 September.
On his official Twitter account, Shapps wrote: “Data shows we need to remove PORTUGAL (minus the AZORES and MADEIRA), HUNGARY, FRENCH POLYNESIA and REUNION from the Travel Corridor list to keep everyone safe.”
This means the new quarantine rules apply to travellers returning from the whole of mainland Portugal, but not to those returning from the Azores or Madeira.
The Azores and Madeira are not affected as on Monday 7 September, the Transport Secretary announced the introduction of a more targeted approach to travel corridors which separates some islands from mainland countries.
Turkey and Poland will both be removed from the safe travel list at 4am on Saturday 3 October, meaning that those that arrive in England from either these locations after this point will have to self isolate for two weeks.