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Croatia and Austria off safe travel list while Portugal added

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

People arriving in England from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago this weekend will need to self-isolate for a fortnight following a “significant increase in confirmed coronavirus cases”.

These destinations have been removed from the quarantine exempt list for arrivals from 4am Saturday 22 August.

This means anyone arriving in England from these destinations, whether by train, ferry, coach, air, or any other route, even a transit stop, will need to quarantine for 14 days.

The government said the destinations have been removed from the list of safe travel corridors for England as data showed a significant increase in Covid-19 cases.

In Croatia, there has been a 164% increase from 10.4 cases per 100,000 to 27.4, while in Trinidad and Tobago, there has been a 232% increase. In Austria, the weekly incidence per 100,000 has risen from 10.5 on 13 August to 20.3 on 20 August – a 93% increase.

Meanwhile, Portugal has been added to the government’s travel corridor list following a fall in confirmed coronavirus cases.

This means any passengers arriving in England from Portugal on or after 4am on Saturday 22 August won’t need to self-isolate, as long as they haven’t travelled through any other non-exempt countries in the 14 days before arrival.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also updated its travel advice to Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago – advising against all but essential travel while this advisory has been removed for Portugal.

The government is urging employers to be “understanding” of those returning from these destinations who will need to self-isolate. It added that passengers should “carefully consider” their ability to self-isolate on return before deciding to travel overseas in the event that advice changes at short notice.

Passengers will need to complete a passenger locator form upon arrival into the UK or they face a £100 fine.

Insurance and pay implications

FCO warnings are important as they are usually the trigger for travel insurance cover. When one is in place, it usually means you can claim for cancellation on your travel insurance if you can’t travel.

If you decide to travel despite an FCO warning, your insurance will normally become invalid.

However, Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said holidaymakers are finding it increasingly difficult to claim a refund. Many airlines continue to operate flights and refuse customers the option of a refund, then charge eye-watering fees to those who try to rebook.

He added: “Meanwhile, the addition of Portugal is likely to come too late to help many struggling holiday companies who are at the point of collapse, as summer trips have already been cancelled. Which? has been asking the government what support it will provide to the travel industry for several months. That support is now urgently needed.”

Patrick Ikhena, head of travel at comparethemarket.com said even for those who have booked a holiday to one of the smaller islands in Croatia where some of these may have low to non-existent infection rates, the trip will fall under the same remit as visiting the mainland, affecting your travel insurance as a result.

He said: “Many providers have begun to offer ‘enhanced Covid-cover’ to give passengers additional cover and peace of mind before travelling abroad. Whilst these policies are unlikely to cover you or your travel companions if you travel to a region against FCO advice, this type of cover is likely to pay out for cancellation should you contract Covid-19 before travelling. Such enhanced coverage is also likely to protect you in the event that FCO advice prevents you from going away, as well as any emergency medical care and repatriation costs.

“If your holiday plans have been impacted by the government’s decision, it may be worth contacting your airline or other transportation providers who may be able to offer you a change of destination. Those who still choose to travel to Croatia, Austria or Trinidad and Tobago must follow FCO guidance first and foremost and check for any local restrictions and requirements ahead of departure. With popular tourist destinations such as Spain, France and now Croatia increasingly seen as more risky holiday destinations in light of growing infection rates, it is essential travellers keep a close eye on restrictions, infection rates and the latest FCO advice for your desired holiday destination, as these can change daily.”

When it comes to being paid while self-isolating, there’s no automatic right to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). SSP applies to other types of self-isolation, such as if you show symptoms of coronavirus.