UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps today revealed a new island policy. Due to the physical boundaries around islands, individual islands will now be exempted from blanket country bans. For example, seven Greek Islands will be removed from the UK’s travel corridor list at 4am on Wednesday. The rest of Greece will remain on the quarantine-free list for the time being.
The UK has been forcing a large majority of passengers to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival in the country, except for few workers and a limited number of travel corridors. The United Kingdom travel industry has been vigorously lobbying for the government to approve COVID-19 testing as an alternative to 14-days of quarantine. Many have been unhappy that countries have been removed with minimal warning for overseas travelers.
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The new islands policy
The new island’s policy introduced by the United Kingdom today is almost a middle ground between the UK’s previous quarantine policy and that of Germany. Previously, the United Kingdom had been implementing quarantine-free travel on a national level. That meant that when Spain was removed from the UK’s safe list, the Balearic and Canary Islands were also removed.
Meanwhile, Germany has been implementing regional restrictions since July. The UK has now found a middle ground. It will only count areas separately if there is a geographic border between them. This typically means islands, as they are surrounded by water.
While the policy could mean that islands escape being placed on the quarantine list, it also works the other way around. While Greece is remaining off of the list, from 4am on Wednesday, all arrivals from the following Greek islands will be forced to quarantine. This will no doubt cause a rush for return flights.
Commenting, Grant Shapps said,
“Our top priority has always been to keep domestic infection rates down, and today we’re taking the next step in our approach. Through the use of enhanced data we will now be able to pinpoint risk in some of the most popular islands, providing increased flexibility to add or remove them – distinct from the mainland – as infection rates change.”
No COVID-19 testing for now
Despite the United Kingdom’s aviation industry strongly lobbying for testing of passengers on arrival, Grant Shapps today said that the government would not be approving a testing initiative for arriving passengers. Shapps said that current tests were not able to pick up asymptomatic individuals entering the country.
However, Shapps did mention that the United Kingdom is researching whether testing could reduce the amount of time that passengers were in quarantine for. Shapps said that perhaps after so many days in quarantine, individuals could then take a COVID-19 test and then be released before 14-day is up. However, he refused to outline any details or specific timeline.
What do you make of the government’s new rules? Are you disappointed to see that testing isn’t on the cards? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!