Holidaymakers to Turkey will have to quarantine for 14 days when they return to the UK from 4am on Saturday.
In a surprise move, the government announced today that it was removing the destination from its list of quarantine-exempt destinations.
It has also removed Poland, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba from 3 October.
But Greece and Italy, which have declared higher concentrations of Covid infections than Turkey, remain on the list, meaning you can still go on holiday to Turkey and most of Greece, with the exception of seven islands including Crete, Mykonos Santorini and Zante, without having to quarantine when you return home.
It’s not clear why the government is introducing a quarantine on arrivals from Turkey when its rates of infection over the past week have been 13 per 100,000 head of population while in Greece and Italy they were just over 20.
The government is understood to consider removing a country from its quarantine-exempt list if its rate of infection rises above 20/100,000. It is possible that the government is wary of Turkey’s declared infection rate, which has not shifted in line with other countries’ rising rates.
Where can you go for a quarantine-free holiday?
Greece (with the exception of the islands mentioned earlier) and Turkey remain the easiest options for a holiday at the moment, but it’s highly likely they will be added to the government’s no-go list next Thursday, if not earlier.
Cyprus seems safe, it has a low rate of infection of just 11.5/100,000 for the past seven days, but you must produce a negative Covid test on arrival, which can be fraught with difficulty.
If you want to go to Cyprus, you must have a Covid test no more than 72 hours before your trip and you must have the result before you travel, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. If it’s positive, you can’t go. Plus you have to pay about £150 per person for the test, you aren’t entitled to a free one on the NHS unless you have symptoms.
There aren’t many other destinations you can go to for some winter sun close to home, unless you’re prepared to quarantine when you get back. Even if you can quarantine, you need to bear in mind that it might be hard to get travel insurance if you’re travelling against government advice, and most destinations on the quarantine list are also covered by the Foreign Office warning against all non-essential travel.
If you don’t mind flying further afield, there are a small number of Caribbean islands, including Antigua, and other long-haul destinations that are quarantine-free, but you need to check the entry requirements to see if you need a Covid-test.
You’ll find a list of entry requirements on the Foreign Office website.