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Italy and Vatican City added to UK quarantine list

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Travellers returning to the UK from Italy, Vatican City and San Marino from 04:00 BST on Sunday must self-isolate for two weeks.

The transport secretary said those returning from the Greek island of Crete will now not need to quarantine.

Italy, which is visited by large numbers of UK residents, was one of the last major countries in Europe on the safe list.

It had its highest daily count of Covid cases on Thursday, with 8,804.

The country has recorded a seven-day rate of 64 cases per 100,000 people.

A rate of 20 cases per 100,000 is the threshold above which the government considers imposing quarantine conditions.

Last week, no countries were added to the quarantine list, amid a spike in UK cases.

Changes to the government's list of destinations from which arrivals do not need to enter quarantine have typically been announced every Thursday at 17:00 BST, and implemented the following Saturday at 04:00 BST.

Announcing the news on Twitter, Grant Shapps said the implementation date would be moved to 04:00 BST on Sunday 18 October and applies UK wide.

Scotland has added mainland Greece and the Greek islands - including Crete, but excluding Mykonos - to its travel corridor list, having removed the country last month. Wales and Northern Ireland have also added Crete to their safe lists.

Poland, Turkey and the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba were among the most recent places added to the quarantine list.

In Italy, it is mandatory to wear face coverings in indoor spaces, including shops, offices, public transport and in bars and restaurants when not seated at a table, though private homes are exempt.

Masks must also be worn in busy outdoor spaces. The country recently announced compulsory testing for anyone arriving from the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

Italians were subject to some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world when the country became the first in Europe to be overwhelmed by the coronavirus earlier in the year.

Airlines facing a bleak winter

When the quarantine is applied to a destination, there is an immediate impact on bookings.

Only non-quarantine destinations are "in demand", according to one airline insider.

The flip side is also true.

Last week, the UK government took the Greek island of Zakynthos off its quarantine list.

Tui scheduled a flight soon after and it sold out in days.

That said, passenger numbers overall are massively suppressed due to the resurgence of the virus and the tightening of travel restrictions.

No airline is expecting a surge in bookings for this half-term.

The government has promised that passengers will, by next month, be able to pay for privately-funded Covid tests to reduce the quarantine period by a week.

Ministers are also considering allowing passengers to test before they travel into the UK and that might mean that some people arriving from at risk countries don't have to quarantine at all.

Winters are always tough for airlines. This one looks incredibly bleak and the prospect of testing to reduce the impact of quarantine is only a small glimmer of light.

Passengers arriving in the UK from at-risk countries could avoid having to quarantine under a number of options being considered by the government. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told a travel conference the plan could involve private Covid testing or a period of self-isolation before departure.

The other option being considered by the government is a system whereby passengers would only have to self-isolate for about a week, instead of two weeks, if they were tested after that period and tested negative.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said the government's travel corridors system has "all but collapsed with most destinations now removed from the list". He added that the travel sector was in "dire need of urgent targeted support if it is to survive the winter months" with "serious reform" needed from government.

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