Italy looks likely to lose quarantine exemption status

Quarantine restrictions appear likely to be imposed on travellers arriving in England from Italy, new figures suggest.

Italy recorded its highest daily number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 7,332.

This brings its seven-day rate of cases per 100,000 people to 64.

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

A rate of 20 is the threshold above which the Government considers triggering quarantine conditions.

But last week no countries lost their exemptions, amid a rise in UK cases.

The UK’s case rate currently stands at 166.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “Europe and the Med have almost become no-go zones if you want to avoid quarantine on your return.

“The current quarantine system should now be replaced by an effective traveller testing programme, mixed with a very short quarantine period.

“This would help business and leisure travel recover as we learn to live with coronavirus. 2020 is a washout for the travel sector and the Government needs to focus on strong revival for early 2021 and beyond.”

Changes to the Government’s list of destinations from which arrivals in England do not need to enter quarantine are usually announced every Thursday at 5pm, and implemented the following Saturday at 4am.

Passenger information board
Passenger information board

The devolved nations have their own exemption lists which are similar but not identical.

The removal of Italy’s exemption would be a further blow to the UK’s travel industry as it is one of its last big markets without a quarantine requirement for returning holidaymakers.

Last week Italy introduced compulsory coronavirus testing for arriving UK visitors.

Arrivals from European countries such as the UK, France and Spain must provide evidence of a negative test taken in the 72 hours prior to travel.

Visitors unable to provide proof of a negative result at the border have to take a test in Italy.

On Wednesday, Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade organisation Abta, expressed fears that more travel firms could go bust in just weeks due to the pandemic.

He said at least 20 travel companies with UK operations have already collapsed since March.