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Turkey and Poland removed from safe travel list

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Caribbean Netherlands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba have also been removed from England’s travel corridor exempt list.

People arriving in the UK from these destinations from 4am Saturday 3 October 2020 will need to self-isolate for two weeks.

Anyone returning from one of these destinations who fails to self-isolate for a fortnight could face a fine of up to £10,000.

The penalties issued to people who breach self-isolation rules after returning from a non-exempt country increase from today and now mirror those recently announced for those breaching self-isolation following a positive coronavirus test or contact from NHS Test & Trace.

The fines now range from £1,000 for first offences up to £10,000 for subsequent offences.

The government introduced quarantine rules in May then started relaxing quarantine restrictions in June. But since then numerous countries, including Spain and France, have been removed from the safe travel list.

Higher risk countries

Data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and Public Health England has indicated a significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Poland, Bonaire, and St Eustatius and Saba, leading to ministers removing these from the current list of travel corridors.

A range of factors are taken into account when deciding to remove a country from the exemption list, including the continued increase of coronavirus within a country, the numbers of new cases, information on a country’s testing capacity, testing regime and test positivity rate, and potential trajectory of the disease in the coming weeks.

The Turkish Health Ministry has said it has been defining the number of new Covid-19 cases in a different way to the definition used by international organisations such as WHO and ECDC, meaning that the JBC’s risk assessment for Turkey has been updated to reflect the likely impact of this on the data for incidence and test positivity rates.

Data from Poland shows a 66% increase in the weekly incidence (cases) per 100,000, rising from 14.7 on 23 September to 24.4 on 30 September. Test positivity for Poland has nearly doubled in a week, increasing from 3.9% to 5.8%.

Data shows there has been a consistent increase in newly reported cases in Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba over the past two weeks with a 740% increase in newly reported cases from five cases between 10 and 16 September to 42 between 24 and 30 September.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to Poland and Turkey. The FCDO already advises against all but essential travel to Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba.

People currently in Turkey, Poland, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba are encouraged to follow the local rules and check the FCDO travel advice pages for further information. The government is urging employers to be understanding of those returning from these destinations who now will need to self-isolate.

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