Fuming Britons blast surprise quarantine on seven Greek islands

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Fuming Britons blast surprise quarantine on seven Greek islands

British holidaymakers have shared their fury as they make the mad dash to return home to the UK from seven Greek islands that will be added to the

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British holidaymakers have shared their fury as they make the mad dash to return home to the UK from seven Greek islands that will be added to the quarantine list from 4am tomorrow. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed on Monday that Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos are being stripped of quarantine exempt status as of 4am on Wednesday amid fears over a spike in coronavirus cases.

Since the announcement, tourists have had to scramble to make alternative plans, with many frantically booking last-minute flights so they don’t have to self-isolate for two weeks once back in Britain.

Flight operators TUI and Jet2 have cancelled holidays to the Greek islands of Crete, Santorini, Zakynthos and Mykonos due to the new quarantine rules. Meanwhile, EasyJet has announced it is cutting flights following the government’s decision. 

Amid the travel chaos, the rush to return home is now underway, though unimpressed travellers have blasted the government. 

Nikki Funnell, from Chester, is in Santorini with her husband Simon. She told MailOnline: ‘It’s far safer in Santorini than the UK. Social distancing is in place here and I think it’s a massive shame for the Greek tourism industry. 

‘I think the UK government are trying to deflect the blame onto other countries for the increase in cases in the UK, which is clearly not true. 

‘I would much rather be here than at home, it’s definitely so much safer. Luckily myself and Simon work from home, however I will have to cancel any plans I have when I return as now have to stay in. Our friend James will have to take 2 weeks off work.’ 

Nikki Funnell, from Chester, is in Santorini with her husband Simon and says she feels safer in Greece than in the UK

Nikki Funnell, from Chester, is in Santorini with her husband Simon and says she feels safer in Greece than in the UK

Nikki Funnell, from Chester, is in Santorini with her husband Simon and says she feels safer in Greece than in the UK

The Transport Secretary revealed that Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete (pictured), Santorini and Zakynthos are being added to the 'red' list as of 4am on Wednesday

The Transport Secretary revealed that Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete (pictured), Santorini and Zakynthos are being added to the 'red' list as of 4am on Wednesday

The Transport Secretary revealed that Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete (pictured), Santorini and Zakynthos are being added to the ‘red’ list as of 4am on Wednesday

Greece as a whole is still well below the threshold for the UK considering quarantine measures - but some of the Greek islands have higher case numbers

Greece as a whole is still well below the threshold for the UK considering quarantine measures - but some of the Greek islands have higher case numbers

Passengers arriving at Gatwick today from the islands in question told MailOnline of the emotional rollercoaster they had endured over the last 24 hours.

An NHS worker, who asked to not be named as her job restricts her from speaking to the press, said she was forced to come home after a single night in Santorini after the government announced the quarantine list.

She said: ‘I had to come back. I work for the NHS. I had planned a week trip so I could relax for the first time this year.

‘It was frustrating to come back after one night but it is what it is.

‘I had a very lovely dinner at the resort. I swam a little in the sun. Thankfully I didn’t have to spend a lot to get my flight home, just £99.

‘It feels like a whirlwind.’

Laura Elliott, 19, from Horley, Surrey, was forced to cut her week-long trip to Santorini by half in order to start at Canterbury Christ Church University, to study primary education on Monday.

She said: ‘It was a super busy flight. It was completely full.

‘But I had to get a flight as I couldn’t quarantine when I got back.

‘I had to spend £99 but my friend out there had to pay £250 to come home so it was quite a difference there.

‘I was supposed to be there for a week, but had to come home three days early.

‘I was staying out there with my two cousins, but they decided to stay out there as they can work from home so they can get away with quarantining.

‘I’m starting university on Monday. I just thought, oh god, I need to get home as fast as I can! I can’t afford to not start uni on time!’

Bruce Calder, 30, a food production officer and Meghann Bamm, 28, an assistant manager, a couple for 18 months from Kettering, were also forced to cut their trip to Santorini short by three nights.

He said: ‘It was obviously frustrating. It just feels like Santorini was picked at random.

‘When they announced it was Greek islands, we didn’t think Santorini would be on the list.

‘The first thing I did when I saw the news was just look at Skyscanner and book a trip home as soon as I could.

‘We flew out from Heathrow, but Gatwick was the only option that we had. We each spent £100.

‘I’d previously been tracked and traced because a guy got it at a pub I drink in, so I’ve already had to spend two weeks at home, and I wasn’t doing that again when I got back.

‘Work wouldn’t have been very happy. So we made the decision to cut the holiday short by three nights. We were supposed to be out there a week, so we cut it short.

‘We had a great time until it got announced. When it was announced, the only thought in my head was just get home.’ 

Nadia Frost, 32, and Dave Hoey, 33, are a couple who work in retail in Cambridge who were forced to pay out £160 each in order to not miss out on lost wages. The couple spent 10 nights in Crete, cutting their 11 night trip short by a day. 

Passengers returned to Gatwick Airport from the Greek islands in their droves today in a bid to avoid the quarantine deadline

Passengers returned to Gatwick Airport from the Greek islands in their droves today in a bid to avoid the quarantine deadline

Passengers returned to Gatwick Airport from the Greek islands in their droves today in a bid to avoid the quarantine deadline

This couple were all smiles at Gatwick airport, after making it safely back to the UK well before the 4am cut-off

This couple were all smiles at Gatwick airport, after making it safely back to the UK well before the 4am cut-off

This couple were all smiles at Gatwick airport, after making it safely back to the UK well before the 4am cut-off

She said: ‘We had to come back today. We were going to come back tomorrow which is frustrating.

‘We both work in retail so it’s not like we can work from home. We had to weigh up the costs of the flights with the money we would get from working, and decided to head back.

‘As soon as we saw Crete was going to be on the quarantine list, it was a frantic rush to book tickets to come home.

‘The website crashed as there were obviously so many people trying to do the same thing. We’re so lucky we were both able to get tickets and get home before it came into effect.

‘It was a nightmare. The website also crashed when we struggled to check in so we had to come to the airport in Chania early and spend a few hours at the airport.

‘It wasn’t until we were on the flight that we looked at each other and thought, ok, we made it.

‘It was an amazing trip and I’m glad we did it. We were out there for 10 nights so it’s not like we didn’t have a lot of time out there.

‘I know some people at the resort we were in had to go home after a night or a couple of nights.’

But there were some people that picked a lucky date to return from the trips abroad.

Dave Paul, 63, a retired quality manager from Southampton, also arrived on the Santorini flight to London Gatwick.

He said: ‘Thankfully we pre-booked our trip so we got back today.

‘On our resort, there were a lot of people trying to frantically get on our flight.

‘The government doesn’t realise that by announcing these last minute quarantine measures, it ruins your holiday.’

Stanley Leach, a 21-year-old sales rep, and girlfriend Faye Annes, a 19-year-old student, both from Cambridge, said they were thanking their lucky stars that they came back from Zakynthos today as she would have missed out on starting at the University of Leeds to study law on September 12.

He said: ‘We were already coming back today, thankfully.

‘I would have been so annoyed if we would have had to quarantine. It’s Faye’s 20th birthday tomorrow, so you wouldn’t want to spend that indoors.

She said: ‘It’s my birthday tomorrow and I’m going to university to start on the 12th, so that would have been inconvenient to say the least.

‘I guess I would have just gone to uni two weeks later and missed everything.’

A passenger wearing a mask successfully made her way back to Gatwick from the Greek islands in time

A passenger wearing a mask successfully made her way back to Gatwick from the Greek islands in time

A passenger wearing a mask successfully made her way back to Gatwick from the Greek islands in time

Scores of travellers wheeled their suitcases through Gatwick after managing to land in time to avoid quarantine

Scores of travellers wheeled their suitcases through Gatwick after managing to land in time to avoid quarantine

Scores of travellers wheeled their suitcases through Gatwick after managing to land in time to avoid quarantine

Ruth Forster-Town, 30, who works in IT, from Walthamstow, arrived back at Gatwick from Mykonos.

She said: ‘It didn’t really impact me much because I was already coming back today.

‘I googled the flights just in case and a single flight home would have been £350. That’s too much for anyone.

‘I work in IT so I can work from home. I’m one of the lucky ones.

‘I was in Mykonos for four days. It was a concern for my friends who have to go straight to work and wouldn’t have been able to quarantine.

‘I have a friend that’s going straight from here to work in a hospital tomorrow.’

A young woman said she had been partying in Mykonos for a month and got lucky with her flight home.

Declining to give her name, she said: ‘I was in Mykonos from August 12 to today. We were just lucky.

‘We booked the flights a couple days ago so we got lucky that we were able to come back and not have to go on lockdown.’

A woman who gave her name as Carol said the airport in Mykonos was not as busy as she was expecting.

She said: ‘Our ticket was already booked for today. It was a total relief. I was there for just over a week.

‘We were very lucky that we had booked it in January. It could have been a total mess.

‘I was expecting the airport to be a nightmare but it was actually ok. The flight was very busy, but it was the same as the flight going out to Mykonos.

‘I went with a friend, a girlfriend, for a girls’ holiday.

‘We had a great time. Honestly, I was worried about the news but not too worried, as it wouldn’t be a problem to quarantine when we got home.

‘I’m probably going to be a bit safer when I’m home anyway.’

Holidaymakers also slammed the Government for the way officials reacted to rising coronavirus cases on the Continent.

Joel Williams, a father-of-one from Bristol, was forced to leave his wife and young son and fly back to the UK, paying £350 for a flight to Heathrow, then another £36 for a coach home from west London.

He said he had to cut short his trip after just three days and come back to Britain or face losing nearly £800 in lost wages if he stayed in Greece and had to take unpaid leave while self-isolating with the rest of the family.

The 36-year-old said: ‘This government has no idea what they are doing.

‘They’ve got so many decisions wrong in the past few months they’re desperate to be seen to be doing what they feel the majority of the electorate think is the right thing, regardless of whether it’s consistent with messages they’ve already put out to the public or the data they have to hand.

‘Specifically with the imposition of these Greek Island quarantines, I believe they wouldn’t have been put in place if both the Scottish and Welsh governments hadn’t done so first.

‘It feels like those initial decisions were taken by those respective governments for political reasons, either for a game of one-upmanship with Downing street, or detracting attention from their own worrying increases in cases of Covid-19 over the past couple of weeks, rather than making much of a difference to limit the spread of the virus.

‘Surely it’s more of a priority for the UK and devolved governments to be focusing on policies that reduce community-based transmissions, which are actually going to make a difference.

‘Also I’m not sure if [Grant] Shapps or any of the Tories really understands the pain that they are inflicting on a public who on the whole diligently stuck to the quarantine rules whilst watching prominent government officials flout the rules.

‘[They have] suffered, continue to face financial uncertainty and now having waited months and used what savings they have to get away, find themselves having their holidays cut short with or ruined with the stress of knowing they have to go back and take unpaid leave.’ 

Since the announcement, tourists have had to scramble to make alternative plans, with many frantically booking last-minute flights

Since the announcement, tourists have had to scramble to make alternative plans, with many frantically booking last-minute flights

Since the announcement, tourists have had to scramble to make alternative plans, with many frantically booking last-minute flights

Matt Walker, 34, from West Yorkshire, also hit out at the government and revealed his daughter will now have to miss nursery because of the quarantine. 

He said: ‘I just think the situation is stupid, with so few cases here in Crete and Tui aren’t helping anyone here to get home early. 

Lucky couple who narrowly escaped forced quarantine brand system ‘completely ridiculous’ 

A lucky couple who narrowly escaped the prospect of a forced quarantine have branded the system ‘completely ridiculous’.

Lewis Ross, a 30-year-old operations manager for eBay from Richmond, and girlfriend Lauren Phillips, 23, a PA from Twickenham, flew back on a 10am British Airways flight from Athens to London Heathrow today – with 20 hours to spare before the forced quarantine.

They had spent 10 days in Mykonos and in Athens.

He said: ‘We were thankfully always going to come back today.

‘Our flight was full because it was full of people trying to cancel their flights and trying to come back today.’

Lauren said: ‘It was completely ridiculous. There were so many people in Mykonos trying to figure out a way to get home, trying to rearrange their flights.

Lewis added: ‘When the rumours started that the Greek islands were going to go on the travel quarantine list, we were nervous.

‘But as soon as it got to 48 hours, I didn’t think it would be a problem as they had to let us know. I didn’t think it’d be a problem as soon as we got past 48 hours.’

Lauren continued: ‘We were completely prepared that if we were going to go away on holiday then we might have to isolate when we got home.

‘It wouldn’t have been a problem for either of us.’

And Lewis said: ‘I was supposed to go to Spain 13 days before we went out to Greece, but because of the risk there that got cancelled straightaway. We got really lucky.’

‘My daughter won’t be able to go to nursery and as such we will have to take time off work to look after her. We will also have to quarantine for her birthday so her party will have to be cancelled. 

‘I think they are playing politics. Once Scotland went for quarantine I think pressure to follow was too much for the government. I just hope they know how much disruption they are causing. We tried to book a flight home, but the prices were doubling in front of our eyes’ 

One lucky couple narrowly escaped the prospect of a forced quarantine by flying back from Greece today. 

Lewis Ross, a 30-year-old operations manager for eBay from Richmond, and girlfriend Lauren Phillips, 23, a PA from Twickenham, flew back on a 10am British Airways flight from Athens to London Heathrow today – with 20 hours to spare before the forced quarantine.

They had spent 10 days in Mykonos and in Athens.

He said: ‘We were thankfully always going to come back today.

‘Our flight was full because it was full of people trying to cancel their flights and trying to come back today.’

Lauren said: ‘It was completely ridiculous. There were so many people in Mykonos trying to figure out a way to get home, trying to rearrange their flights.’

Another traveller, who was not so lucky, said they had swapped the Canary Islands for Greece after their holiday was cancelled when Spain was suddenly added to the quarantine list. 

‘Having monitored the quarantine announcements as they were on Thursday effective Saturday we opted to travel on a Friday for a week only, cutting our holiday short, to ensure we had no risk of quarantine.

‘We are two hard working public sector employees who haven’t had a days leave since March and we will now have two weeks in quarantine for a one week holiday.’

Another traveller also admitted they were ‘caught out’ by the announcement.

They said: I have been carefully monitoring both the 7 and 14 day infection rates and the decisions made by government to keep a close watch on the situation.

My intention being that if the figures started rising and murmurings of isolation periods start appearing, we would book the first flight home.

‘However the decision yesterday completely caught us out.

‘It came on a Monday not Thursday as normal, the decision is completely illogical, most of the cases in Greece have been on the mainland and not the islands.’

Others have taken to social media to raise their concerns. On Twitter user said: ‘Currently in a half full hotel in Zante. @grantshapps reckless decision to impose a travel ban and lack of advice to @TUIUK has left us not knowing what’s happening. Bolton has over 5 times the infection rate of Greece, but people don’t have to quarantine when they leave?’

Another said: ‘3,000 cases in the last 24 hours in the UK and 156 in Greece but I have to quarantine when home, well done Boris.’

A third added: ‘We will miss the deadline and there are no seats on flights out of either of the airports, it’s very frustrating as #crete has such a low rate and take COVID precautions very seriously.’  

TUI has scrapped holidays to Crete, Santorini, Zakynthos and Mykonos while Jet2 has axed holidays to Crete up to and including September 20.

A TUI spokesperson said: ‘We welcome the announcement on regional corridors to Islands and believe it’s a positive step forward for the travel industry and for our customers, who we know still wish to travel. 

‘This is exactly the nuanced and pragmatic approach that we’ve been calling for.

Flights home before quarantine deadline ‘went in five minutes’ of announcement, holidaymaker claims

A holidaymaker who will be forced to quarantine after the government removed seven Greek islands from its quarantine-free list says flights home before the Wednesday 4am deadline ‘went in five minutes’ of the announcement being made.

The public sector worker, who did not want to be named, said they had swapped the Canary Islands for Crete after their holiday was cancelled.

The holidaymaker opted for a Friday to Friday holiday, hoping to beat any announcement of a change to the rules – which are usually implemented on a Saturday. 

But they were caught out when Grant Schapps took Crete and six other islands off the quarantine-free list, from 4am tomorrow. 

The holidaymaker said ‘We are two hard working public sector employees who haven’t had a days leave since March and we will now have two weeks in quarantine for a one week holiday.

‘There were no flights left five minutes after the announcement.

‘Greece and Crete have a much lower infection rate than the UK.’

The holidaymaker added: ‘The government needs to get a grip.

‘They should publish the criteria for quarantine and the timing of when this will happen.’

‘However, with little notice we have had to cancel holidays to Crete, Santorini, Zakynthos and Mykonos just hours before customers are due to travel due to the change in travel advice.

‘Any customers due to travel to these four islands before Tuesday 22 September will be able to amend for free to another holiday on sale, or request a full cash refund.

‘We now urgently need to hear more about how the Government will implement a robust regime of airport testing to reduce down the need to quarantine for 14 days, as this remains a barrier for some to travel.’

A spokesperson for Jet2 said: ‘Due to the latest government travel advice, we have taken the decision to suspend holidays to Crete up to and including 20th September. We will be in touch with affected customers to discuss options to rebook or receive a credit note/ cash refund.’

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘Following the imposition of additional quarantine restrictions to seven Greek islands and the continued uncertainty this brings for customers, demand is now likely to be further impacted and therefore lower than previously anticipated.

‘We know our customers are as frustrated as we are with the unpredictable travel and quarantine restrictions.

‘We called on the Government to opt for a targeted, regionalised and more predictable and structured system of quarantine many weeks ago so customers could make travel plans with confidence.’

Greece’s current infection rate is at around 19 cases per 100,000 – well below the threshold of 20. 

Holidaymakers are reporting huge price hikes for their journeys back, with some having to pay out three times more than they planned. 

Accountant Julie Frew has a tight window of just three hours between her scheduled arrival back in Birmingham and the cut-off point.

The 46-year-old has been in Crete for nearly two weeks with partner David Wort, 48, and is anxious that any slight delay on the journey home could mean both have to quarantine, as well as daughter, Lauren, 23, and her two small children who are due back at nursery over the coming days.

She told MailOnline: ‘It’s definitely going to be a case of biting our fingernails over the next 24 hours.

‘I don’t understand it because if anything it seems safer here than in the UK.

‘It’s been very quiet, there’s barely anyone on the beaches, all the staff wear masks and there are hand-sanitisers on every table.

‘It’s not like it’s a party island, everything shuts down by midnight, and I think they’ve only had one or two cases reported a day for the last few weeks compared to our thousands – we had no concerns coming here.

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‘The government just don’t seem to know what they’re doing, they’re quoting different numbers and it’s like they’re playing Russian Roulette.

‘Both of us are very angry and frustrated about it because we’ve followed the rules throughout lockdown and it feels like we might be punished.

‘We’ve been looking forward to this holiday for months and it’s been a well-deserved break away from a very hard year.

‘Thankfully neither of us are in a position where we’d lose jobs or pay as a result of quarantine but I’m sure plenty of others face that threat.’

Beth Maybury, 24, from Leeds, echoed Ms Frew’s view that life in Crete was more comfortable than in the UK.

She said: ‘We’ve felt 100% safer here than back in Leeds as all employees are wearing masks and areas are a lot less crowded. 

‘Bars etc just seem a lot quieter, the hotel seems not even at half capacity so there’s plenty of room round the pool/beach. There just seems to be a lot more awareness in terms of masks too.

‘We live near the White Rose (shopping centre) in Leeds which has been consistently heaving throughout with people ignoring social distancing measures while out shopping and going out to eat.

‘I’ve been nervous going out for food or drinks in the UK because it’s too busy with no one following rules which is (the) polar opposite to how I feel here.

Julie Frew and David Wort arrive back in the UK just three hours before the quarantine deadline and fear the consequences of a delay to their flight

Julie Frew and David Wort arrive back in the UK just three hours before the quarantine deadline and fear the consequences of a delay to their flight

Julie Frew and David Wort arrive back in the UK just three hours before the quarantine deadline and fear the consequences of a delay to their flight

‘I’ve worked all throughout lockdown as I’m a key worker and I’ve been so nervous to do anything outside of work. I’ve had to fly four hours to feel comfortable doing anything.’

Meanwhile, author Fiona Perrin, who has been celebrating her tenth anniversary with husband Alan O’Reilly on the island, booked an earlier flight to come home but had to shall out more than treble the initial cost. 

She said: ‘We were planning to come back on the Wednesday and thought we’d be fine because the quarantine list is normally announced later in the week.

‘It was just the shock of seeing the price surge before our eyes, literally as I went to get my credit card, I looked up and it had risen again, it was extraordinary. 

Matt Hancock says government wants to test arrivals in the UK for Covid ‘as soon as it’s practical’ to halve two-week quarantine 

Matt Hancock today insisted coronavirus testing for arrivals in the UK will be introduced ‘as soon as it is practical’.

The Health Secretary said the government recognised how much strain the requirement for 14-day quarantine was putting on the travel industry.

He warned that doing just one test at the airport ‘doesn’t work’ as too many asymptomatic cases would be missed. 

But he confirmed that the government is working on a plan for screening incomers after around eight days, which could potentially halve the quarantine period. 

‘It is one of the things that we are looking to being in as soon as it is practical to do so,’ Mr Hancock told an LBC radio phone-in. 

Ministers have been rattled by mounting Tory anger over the disastrous quarantine policy, with claims that 110,000 jobs linked to the aviation industry are at stake.

The arrangements have been cast into further doubt as the UK’s number of cases are now nearing the threshold at which it imposes isolation rules on other countries. 

The government is considering two options to open up the skies and help rescue the Covid-ravaged economy.

Under the first, passengers would be given an airport test on arrival followed by a second test a few days later. The second option is for a single test after five to eight days of self-isolation.

But aviation chiefs are furious at the slow pace of progress and want a firm commitment to border tests by the end of the week.  

‘We need to get back for work and because we’re renovating a house, which is six months behind schedule as a result of Covid and we didn’t want to shut our building site down again.

‘Luckily in our case it’s not too catastrophic but I think there will be a lot of people who will have to take two weeks without pay.’ 

In his announcement in the Commons, Mr Shapps said that he was stopping short of following Scotland’s example by slapping restrictions on arrivals from Greece as a whole.

The grim news came as the Cabinet minister revealed that the quarantine system for England is being overhauled to take account of the widely different risk profile presented by some islands. 

The Joint Biosecurity Centre will now consider islands separately from their mainland where possible.

‘For the first time we have the data and the capacity to add and remove specific islands from quarantine while still providing maximum protection for the public,’ he told MPs. 

However, despite the move by the Transport Secretary to add more destinations to the ‘red’ list, England’s approach to imposing quarantine remains less severe than both Scotland and Wales. Scotland has imposed travel quarantine on the whole of Greece while Wales has banned travel to a larger number of Greek islands.   

The Foreign Office has updated its guidance to advise against all but essential travel to the seven islands, but not Greece more widely. 

The announcement was broadly welcomed by the holiday industry as a step in the right direction.

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘It’s to be warmly welcomed that the Government is amending its quarantine policy – opening up some islands to British tourists again without them having to quarantine.

‘Regional corridors are vital to keep travel and tourism alive and well, and I hope it removes the confusion of different UK governments pursuing different approaches to individual countries.

‘It’s sad news for the Greek islands who can’t yet open up but I hope this policy provides impetus for them to get their cases under control.’

But there were complaints that the government is acting too slowly. 

A spokesman for British Airways’ owner IAG said: ‘It was evident back in July that islands should be treated separately. The Government is being too slow in making obvious decisions.

‘For most families summer is now over and the damage to the industry and the economy is done. On testing, we need to get on with it. We are way behind other countries on what has to be a more nuanced approach.’

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon criticised the Government’s handling of the pandemic, describing its response as ‘chaotic’.

He said: ‘The Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis has been nothing short of chaotic. At almost every turn, it lacked a clear strategy and this failure has been acutely felt in aviation.

‘For months, even when the virus was at its peak, millions of passengers were coming from all over the world without any restrictions placed upon them at all. By the time restrictions were introduced, we were one of only a handful of countries in the world who up to that point had failed to take action in bringing restrictions in place.’ 

Grant Shapps told the Commons that he was stopping short of following Scotland's example by slapping restrictions on arrivals from Greece as a whole

Grant Shapps told the Commons that he was stopping short of following Scotland's example by slapping restrictions on arrivals from Greece as a whole

Grant Shapps told the Commons that he was stopping short of following Scotland’s example by slapping restrictions on arrivals from Greece as a whole

The quarantine arrangements have been cast into further doubt as the UK's number of cases are now nearing the threshold at which it imposes isolation rules on other countries

The quarantine arrangements have been cast into further doubt as the UK's number of cases are now nearing the threshold at which it imposes isolation rules on other countries

The quarantine arrangements have been cast into further doubt as the UK’s number of cases are now nearing the threshold at which it imposes isolation rules on other countries

It came after Matt Hancock insisted coronavirus testing for arrivals in the UK will be introduced ‘as soon as it is practical’ to ease the quarantine measures.

The Health Secretary said the government recognised how much strain the requirement for 14-day isolation was putting on the travel industry.

He warned that doing just one test at the airport ‘doesn’t work’ as too many asymptomatic cases would be missed. 

But he confirmed that the government is working on a plan for screening incomers after around eight days, which could potentially halve the quarantine period. 

‘It is one of the things that we are looking to being in as soon as it is practical to do so,’ Mr Hancock told an LBC radio phone-in. 

Ministers have been rattled by mounting Tory anger over the disastrous quarantine policy, with claims that 110,000 jobs linked to the aviation industry are at stake.

The arrangements have been cast into further doubt as the UK’s number of cases are now nearing the threshold at which it imposes isolation rules on other countries. 

The government is considering two options to open up the skies and help rescue the Covid-ravaged economy.

Under the first, passengers would be given an airport test on arrival followed by a second test a few days later. The second option is for a single test after five to eight days of self-isolation.

But aviation chiefs are furious at the slow pace of progress and want a firm commitment to border tests by the end of the week.  

Leaders from the likes of Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Luton have set the Prime Minister a seven-day deadline to replace mandatory self-isolation with Covid-19 testing at airports.

In the letter seen by the Daily Telegraph – also addressed to Chancellor Rishi Sunak – 20 airport chief executives claimed testing, alongside other measures, could save 110,000 jobs industry-wide.

Having already lost over £4billion due to reduced traffic during the pandemic, they wrote: ‘We cannot currently envisage an end to this struggle, and without robust Government support there is real possibility of irreparable damage being done to our once world-beating aviation sector.’

Led by Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, conservative chair of the Airport Operators’ Association, the signatories stressed that testing, along with regional travel corridors, were critical to opening up travel.

It is also believed scores of Tory MPs will today urge the government to back testing in airports to remove a ‘barrier to travel’. 

TUI managing director Andrew Flintham also criticised the lack of testing at airports last night, writing in the Daily Telegraph: ‘This Government wants to get people back to work – but what happens when there’s no work for people to come back to.’ 

In a boost for the Mail’s campaign, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday said a testing regime was under review but would be ‘no silver bullet’ to end quarantine.

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