Countries that consistently have a Covid-19 infection rate of more than 20 people per 100,000 citizens are at risk of losing their spot on the UK’s quarantine-exempt list, according to an industry insider.
All inbound arrivals to the UK have been subject to 14 days’ self-isolation since 8 June, with the only exceptions being those coming from destinations deemed “low-risk” by the government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre.
However, even countries previously exempt from quarantine can be removed from the list without warning, as was the case with Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas.
According to Paul Charles, travel consultant and chief executive of PR firm the PC Agency, “Anything above 20 per 100,000 for a period of seven days or more is likely to lead to that country being added to the quarantine list.”
The government is using data from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to decide which countries stay exempt and which are booted off the list, Charles wrote in The Telegraph.
“It’s one statistic in particular that is being watched the most closely by Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre; that is the cumulative number, over 7 days, of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 of the population,” he said.
“While some other criteria are measured and monitored by Professor Chris Whitty and his team, and cabinet ministers including transport secretary Grant Shapps and foreign secretary Dominic Raab, such as health infrastructure in a country and the track record of the medical authorities on the ground, it is the case number per 100,000 that now matters.”
It’s why speculation has been rife that France could be taken off the quarantine exemption list any day now, leaving thousands of holidaymakers in a difficult position.
France’s rate has risen from 17 per 100,000 to 26 per 100,000 in the last week.
“France has just two days to gets its numbers below 20,” said Charles.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said it is a “tricky situation”, telling Sky News: “What I can say to people is we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and that means there is always the risk of disruption to travel plans and people need to bear that in mind.”
He added: ”It’s the right thing for us to do to keep everything under review on a constant basis, talking with our scientists and medical advisers.
“And if we need to take action as you’ve seen overnight, we will of course not hesitate to do that and we’re doing that to protect people’s health.
”In the meantime people should look at the guidance and take everything into account and make a decision they think is best.“
Other countries that could be at risk based on their 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 as published by the ECDC include: the Netherlands (30.4); Czech Republic (28.4); Iceland (31.4); and Malta (50.4).