Holidaymakers are facing chaos and uncertainty amid fears France, Holland, Switzerland, Poland and Malta could be added to the quarantine list within days.
Amid an alarming surge in coronavirus cases on the continent, Boris Johnson warned yesterday that ministers will 'not hesitate' to reintroduce quarantine 'very rapidly' if infections continue to rise.
There are already fears that France – where 500,000 Britons are currently on holiday – could be re-added if infections continue to increase over the next two days. The scenario could trigger a frantic rush of passengers desperate to return home.
And last night an industry expert warned it may be the case that fresh restrictions are imposed on Holland, Switzerland, Poland and Malta, where case numbers are rising. All returning passengers would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Airline bosses last night dismissed the reports as 'overegged' speculation, but ministers have not ruled out new restraints, insisting it is too early to make a decision that would have a significant impact on holidaymakers and the travel industry.
There are already fears that France – where 500,000 Britons are currently on holiday – could be re-added if infections continue to increase over the next two days
An industry expert warned it may be the case that fresh restrictions are imposed on Holland, Switzerland, Poland and Malta, where case numbers are rising (pictured: Dover, August 9)
Airline bosses last night dismissed the reports as 'overegged' speculation, but ministers have not ruled out new restraints, insisting it is too early to make a decision that would have a significant impact on holidaymakers and the travel industry (pictured: Heathrow, July 30)
An extension of quarantine across Europe would effectively signal the death knell for foreign holidays this summer, heaping fresh misery on airlines and tour operators.
Should I cancel my holiday?
Officials say a decision on countries including France, Holland, Switzerland, Malta and Poland is not expected imminently but could come before the end of the week. If coronavirus cases continue to rise in those places over the next few days it may be sensible to cancel or postpone.
Can I claim statutory sick pay if I'm in quarantine?
No. There is no automatic eligibility to statutory sick pay, unless they meet the required conditions, such as displaying virus symptoms.
How likely is it that new countries will be added?
It depends on whether infection rates continue to increase. As well as case numbers, officials are considering other criteria, such as individual country's testing regimes and the extent to which their data can be trusted.
A decision could come at any time but an announcement is more likely to be made from Thursday onwards, as this is when the Government will carry out its weekly review of quarantine countries.
Will I get a refund on my holiday?
If your airline goes ahead with the flight, then you have no right to a refund – although some carriers may give you your money back as a gesture of goodwill. Otherwise you are likely to get a voucher or the option to move the flight to a later date.
Package holidays are protected under the Atol scheme.
What are the punishments if I break the rules?
Fines of up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and £480 in Scotland. This can rise to £5,000 for persistent offenders. However, only a very small number of people have been fined so far.
What if I just have to transit through France?
As long as passengers remain in the car for the whole journey and nobody joins you, then you would not have to quarantine afterwards.
In a potential scramble to return home before any new rulings come into force, holidaymakers would likely be given at least 30 hours' notice before the measures kick in.
Ministers are said to be giving careful thought to the decision to blacklist France due to heightened diplomatic tensions with the Channel migrant crisis.
There are said to be further concerns for the capacity of Eurotunnel and ferry operators to deal with a sudden rush of travellers returning home. Ministers insist no decisions have been made and an announcement is not expected imminently.
But in a sign of concern over the spike in infections, Whitehall sources last night said travellers should be prepared to expect the worst and warned: 'No holiday is necessarily guaranteed.'
An official announcement could come on Thursday night, after ministers are presented with the latest data in their weekly review of the quarantine list.
Officials say it is impossible to predict whether the countries will be added to the quarantine list but said they will monitor infection rates over the coming days.
One of the measurements used by Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to determine the risk is the number of cases per 100,000 of the population, cumulative over 14 days.
According to industry insiders, any country with a consistent rate of more than 20 cases per 100,000 people, over seven days, is at risk of being added to the quarantine list.
As of Sunday, France has a rate of 26 per 100,000, Poland is 23 and Switzerland 25. Yesterday Malta hit 58.6 cases per 100,000 and Holland 32.5. The rates have been rising steadily over the last week, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
A Whitehall source told the Daily Mail: 'A lot of it comes down to these infection rates. Obviously, rising cases mean the risk of quarantine is more likely. No decisions have been made and we are waiting to see how things change over the week. What we would say to holidaymakers is that they need to be aware there is a risk of quarantine coming in at any time. No holiday is necessarily guaranteed.'
Speaking on a visit to Essex yesterday, the Prime Minister said ministers will 'not hesitate' to impose restrictions.
He said: 'I don't want to advise people about their individual holidays, individual decisions, they should look at the travel advice from the Foreign Office clearly.
'But what I will say, and I hope people would expect us to do this, in the context of a global pandemic, we've got to keep looking at the data in all the countries to which British people want to travel.
'Where it is necessary to impose restrictions or to impose a quarantine system, we will not hesitate to do so.'
Rising cases: Spain has suffered a severe spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, as this graph shows, while France, Germany and Italy have also seen upticks in new infections
Boris Johnson warned that ministers will 'not hesitate' to impose a quarantine system for travellers from other countries to the UK if needed
People wear protective face masks by the Eiffel Tower as part of measures to contain the virus
Romantics heading to the city of love had better be careful not to be caught kissing outdoors. that's because it's now illegal to be on the boulevards of Paris without a face mask.
Following a surge in covid cases, police are authorised to issue a £123 spot fine to anyone not follow the public health diktat.
one location covered by the measure is the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin, one of the city's most popular outdoor spots for lunch or an aperitif with friends.
'In the morning when there is nobody on the canal, I think it is a bit of a drastic measure,' lawyer Helene Rames said.
Wearing a face mask outdoors is also required at the city's openair markets, at popular tourist sites like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel tower and the Montmartre district with its crowded streets.
A nationwide decree already requires people to wear masks in all stores and other indoor public places.
Summer holidays have been blamed for rising cases in Germany and Italy, while France has tightened its face mask rules in tourist hotspots such as Paris and the Mediterranean resort of Saint Tropez.
However, Europe has yet to see a major spike in deaths or hospital cases, amid signs that many of those testing positive are young and less vulnerable to the disease.
France has piled up more than 10,000 new cases in the last week, the highest number since April and a sharp increase from 7,391 the week before.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker