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女大学生的沙龙: Air bridge plan in jeopardy as Greece suspends holiday flights from UK

Greece's decision to ban flights from the UK until mid-July shoots a big hole in the Government's air bridges plan on eve of its launch

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Greece on holiday

Britain’s air bridge plans are?in danger of being undermined?as Greece banned British holiday flights until the middle of July.

Greece announced it was suspending all direct flights from the UK and Sweden until July 15 because of the epidemiological data on the state of the Coronavirus pandemic in both countries.

Ireland also signalled that Britain is unlikely to be on its “green list” of countries under which travellers will be exempted from its 14-day quarantine from July 9 because of the UK’s “very high” incidence of Coronavirus.

And Nicola Sturgeon warned she will consider introducing quarantine for English visitors to Scotland if the number of coronavirus cases south of the Border surges. She said she had no plans at present for restrictions on cross-Border travel but added: "I'm not ruling anything out."

The moves come just days before Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is due to unveil a list of more than 50 countries where he plans air bridges to allow British holidaymakers to avoid having to self-isolate for 14 days on their return.

Greece along with France and Spain was named by the Government last Friday as one of the chosen 50 destinations earmarked for quarantine-free holidays from July 6. The number of searches for Greek holidays trebled as a result over the weekend.

However, announcing plans to open the country to international travellers from July 1, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis specifically excluded flights from Britain and Sweden, scuppering holiday plans.

"The whole opening process is ongoing and the data will be constantly evaluated," he said.

Travel firms warned it added to the confusion and uncertainty for families seeking to plan foreign holidays, while one Conservative MP said it “drove a coach and horses” through the Government’s quarantine policy.

Ireland is expected to announce its “green list” of countries on July 9 which is understood to include Spain, Greece, Portugal, Malta and Croatia.

However, the former Irish taoiseach Leo Veradkar warned that if the decision was made now, travellers from Britain with its “very high incidences of infection” would still face quarantine - even though Irish people travelling from the republic to the UK do not have self-isolate.

Dr Tony Holohan, Ireland’s chief medical officer, said its green list would be countries with similarly low infection rates. Ireland had two cases on Sunday compared with the UK’s 900. "We are beyond nervous. We are concerned about travel as a potential source of infection for this country,” he said.

Denmark has also unexpectedly kept the UK, Ireland, Romania and Malta on its “quarantine” list of countries, in retaliation for their own restrictions. ?

By contrast, the Czech republic announced yesterday that Britain would be on a green list exempting visitors from quarantine. However, it banned Sweden on “red” and put Portugal on “amber".?

Britain is also threatening to exclude Portugal from its air bridges after an outbreak of Coronavirus in and around Lisbon that has forced a new lockdown in 19 parishes. ?

Rowland Paterson, executive director of the Ultimate Travel Company, said the holiday landscape was changing “almost by the hour” as he warned people against booking prematurely.

He said Greece appeared to be as guilty as the UK of making "policy on the hoof." He added: "Until there is agreement and something in writing, it would be precipitous or too risky for people to book a holiday to one of these countries.”

Henry Smith, the Conservative chair of the cross-party Future of Aviation Group, said the Greek decision “drives a coach and horses through the quarantine. That is disappointing. I think it is a retrograde step but a country needs to do what they think is in their public health interests.”

Paul Charles, chief executive of PC Consultancy, which specialises in travel advice, said: “Greece is signalling they want to be certain there is little to no risk letting UK travellers in. By giving it another two weeks, they are buying time to help the British prove that Covid is completely under control.”

It has also emerged that a British couple have?become the first people to be fined ?100 under the quarantine laws for refusing to fill in their locator forms when they were stopped at Coquelles in France. The pair will be referred to police to ensure they self-isolate.

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