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Cyprus became the latest country to be axed from the UK travel corridor list following a sudden increase in coronavirus infection rates. Britons currently abroad in Cyprus, returning after Saturday October 31, will face quarantine on their arrival back home.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announced the news on Twitter.
He wrote: “TRAVEL CORRIDOR UPDATE: We are REMOVING CYPRUS and LITHUANIA from the #TravelCorridor list.
“From 4am Sunday 1st November, if you arrive into the UK from these destinations you will need to self-isolate.”
It is a sudden U-turn from the summer months when Cyprus was considered a “safe” holiday haven thanks to its fairly low coronavirus rate and its entry requirements for Britons.
The new quarantine rule could be worrying for holidaymakers who are currently sunning it up in the hotspot.However, one travel expert says rushing home is to beat quarantine could actually end up costing far more than just time spent in isolation.
Noel Josephides of travel agent Sunvil is a Cypriot himself and has been selling holidays to his homeland for 50 years.
When asked if holidaymakers should “rush home” he said: “It is likely to cost them more than staying on to complete their holiday.”
However, he noted that this largely depends on personal circumstance.
“It depends on how much they need to be quarantine-free and probably how easily (or not) they can afford an expensive new return flight home.
“With many working from home, quarantine (especially in this weather) is probably not so bad for the majority of people.”
For those hoping to claim any return flights on their travel insurance, alas, it is likely not going to be so straight forward.
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“Unless it is a top-notch and recently purchased policy, it is unlikely to cover pandemics,” he continued.
“You need to read the small print, unfortunately, something that most of us seldom do until it is too late.”
He added: “It is thus down to each individual’s personal pocket and preference and, if they are working, down to their employers’ working policies; those working from home probably won’t have a problem so may as well stay to enjoy the rest of their holiday.”
For those with holidays impending, whether or not a refund is possible depends on the type of holiday they have planned.
“99 percent of package holidays will be cancelled as people are unlikely to want to quarantine,” said Mr Josephides.
Under current ABTA regulations, which govern most package holiday providers, a full refund must be provided if a holiday is cancelled.
However, if travellers have booked flights and hotels separately, it could be a different story.
“The hotels, if they have paid in advance, are not compelled to refund the money,” continued Mr Josephides.
“The flights may well still be operating so if people do not want to travel then they will either lose their money or try to get the airline to postpone their visit. This is the risk of booking independent components directly.
“They will be at the mercy of the suppliers. Any refund will depend on the goodwill of the supplier.
“They have no rights though they could try to get a refund from their credit card – this would be difficult because the suppliers are entitled to keep the money.
“They could try their insurance company but they are likely to walk away too.”
The UK Government recently changed its threshold for determining whether a nation would remain on the travel corridor list or face quarantine rules.
Previously, it was using a threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 of the population over a seven day period.
This has since changed to 100 cases per 100,000 of the population over a seven day period.
Regardless, the change was not enough to help Cyprus maintain its travel corridor.
The latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) showing Cyprus has recorded 111.7 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in its population over a seven-day period.
However, this is still far lower than the same figures in the UK.
In the same seven day period, the UK recorded 232.6 cases per 100,000.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said: “With yet more countries removed from the travel corridor list, the government’s approach and the lack of clarity around how decisions are made continues to cost holidaymakers dearly.
“While many families would have been scheduled to fly home from Cyprus this Sunday as the half-term draws to a close, they will now be forced to pay extortionate airfares as they scramble for flights that arrive before the 4am deadline.
“The travel industry has endured a turbulent year and trust in the sector is at rock bottom. It is in desperate need of reform and support from the government if it is to survive the next few months.”
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