Greece defends pandemic handling as England faces pressure over quarantine rules

Greece insists it is doing “everything in our power” to keep UK holidaymakers safe as England faces pressure to reimpose quarantine rules on the country.

Rising coronavirus cases prompted the Scottish Government to announce travellers from Greece would have to self-isolate for 14 days from Thursday, while Wales began asking arrivals from the island of Zante to enter quarantine.

Greece’s tourism minister, Harry Theoharis, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re doing everything in our power to ensure that every person that comes from the UK is kept safe in Greece.

“We’re taking specific targeted measures where we see specific concentrations of cases. Measures that have been successful and have been working in the past few days.”

The UK’s biggest tour operator Tui is suspending its holidays in the resort of Laganas on Zante.

There were 14.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Greece in the seven days to September 1, up from 14.1 a week earlier and a similar rate to the UK.

A seven-day rate of 20 is the threshold above which the UK Government has considered triggering quarantine conditions.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said no change to its rules for England had been made, but Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said he would be pressing the UK Government for an urgent meeting to consider the potential risk in Greece.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Elsewhere, rising cases in Portugal are prompting many UK tourists to pay hundreds of pounds to fly home before Saturday.

In recent weeks the DfT has announced changes to its quarantine exemption list on Thursday nights, with the new rules being imposed on Saturdays at 4am.

In Portugal, the seven-day coronavirus cases rate is 22.7, compared with 14.2 for the previous week.

Holidaymakers hoping to avoid quarantine face limited options and expensive fares, despite airlines operating additional flights.

EasyJet and British Airways have no available flights from Faro – which serves the Algarve – to Britain on Friday.

The cheapest flights on Thursday cost £264.

Rory Boland, travel editor at consumer group Which?, condemned the UK’s approach to quarantine measures.

He said: “Yet again haphazard announcements and rumours around quarantine have sparked chaos and confusion for holidaymakers, with many facing an unenviable choice between paying extortionate prices for last-minute flights home or the disruption caused by two weeks in isolation on their return.”

In Ireland, the seven-day rate is 16.8, while in the UK it is 14.1.

Figures have been calculated by the PA news agency based on data collected by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.