Serbia removed from quarantine-free list on day policy is implemented

Serbia is being removed from a list of where people returning to or visiting England can avoid quarantine, on the day the new rules come into force.

The UK Government announced that the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England have "updated their coronavirus assessments of Serbia based on the latest data".

Serbia was included on a list of 76 countries and territories from which people arriving into England will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days from Friday.

The list included popular destinations such as Spain, Germany, France and Italy, but Portugal was one of the notable omissions.

The Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive decided to follow the same approach, but the Scottish Government produced a list of just 39 countries not including Spain or Serbia.

There have been two nights of violent clashes in Serbian capital Belgrade by thousands of people protesting against coronavirus lockdown measures.

Serbian authorities have reported 352 coronavirus deaths and 17,342 cases, but it has been claimed the data does not represent the full impact of the virus.

UK holidaymakers were looking forward to meeting new grandchildren and being reunited with loved ones as they travelled on the first day of the new quarantine rules being in place.

Passengers passing through Gatwick Airport's north terminal admitted they would not be travelling if they were still required to self-isolate for two weeks on their return.

"We probably would have gone later," said Ray Gordge, 64, from Taunton, who was on his way to Paris to see his daughter for the first time in six months, and meet his new grandson, born last week.

"It's exciting, I'm pleased the quarantine has been lifted to be honest," he told the PA news agency.

"It's nice to have a bit more normality."

Mr Gordge said he only booked his easyJet flight in the last few days, but had no concerns about travelling.

"I think it's OK as long as you're wearing a face mask. It's very strange."

While Labour welcomed the UK Government's relaxation of the quarantine for some countries, it criticised ministers for failing to secure agreements with more destinations to accept UK visitors without restrictions.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said workers and holidaymakers were paying the price of the Government's failure to act.

He added: "The fact they have been unable to negotiate air bridges is an indictment of their failure to tackle the crisis at home.

"They were too slow to take lockdown, too slow to order PPE (personal protective equipment) and too slow to protect our country.

"Labour has consistently called for a sectoral deal that supports the whole aviation industry including the supply chain based on our six conditions.

"Tory ministers have failed to act and workers are paying the price and trips are being cancelled."

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