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Returning holidaymakers from Hungary and Portugal to isolate for two weeks

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Holidaymakers are set to scramble back to England from Hungary, Portugal, French Polynesia and Réunion as the countries have been booted off the safe travel corridor list.

These destinations have been removed from the quarantine exempt list for arrivals from 4am Saturday 12 September.

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 self-isolate for a fortnight.

However, it excludes the Portuguese islands of Azores and Madeira as part of the government’s new island policy as these territories haven’t seen a rise in coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, Sweden will be added to the quarantine exempt travel list at 4am Saturday 12 September.

‘Significant increase in confirmed cases’

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

The Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England said there has been a consistent increase in newly reported cases in Portugal over the past three weeks, with an 81% increase over seven days. Between 26 August and 9 September, cases rose from 1,464 to 2,652.

In Hungary, there has been a 192% increase in newly reported cases over the past week, rising from 1,042 to 3,047 between 27 August and 2 September.

There has been a 77% increase in cases in French Polynesia over the past week, from 78 to 138 between 19 August and 9 September.

And in Réunion over the past four weeks, it has seen a 231% increase in newly reported cases over seven days from 201 to 667 between 19 August and 9 September.

At the same time, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has also updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to mainland Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Réunion and is no longer advising against non-essential travel to Sweden.

All travellers, including those from exempt destinations, will still be required to show a completed passenger locator form on arrival into the UK unless they fall into a group of exemptions. Border Force will carry out spot checks, and travellers who refuse to provide their contact details face a fine starting at £100.

Insurance and pay implications

FCDO 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.

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.

The government is urging employers to be “understanding” of those returning from these destinations who now will need to self-isolate.

It also announced last month that people on low incomes who need to self-isolate but can’t work from home in areas where there are high rates of coronavirus will receive a new payment worth up to £182 (£13 a day).

To claim, people need to be in receipt of Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit. Currently the trial is operating in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham. If successful, it will be rolled out further.