Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Friday morning, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps warned that another nation could soon be removed from England’s travel corridor list as coronavirus figures rise. He said that, following its removal from Scotland’s travel corridor list, Switzerland may be the next nation to face the chop.
He explained: “We’ve looked very carefully at Switzerland. One of the key measures we use is how many cases 100,000 and the limit is 20 cases per 100,000.”
Working in line with the Joint Biosecurity Centre, UK nations also assess a number of additional criteria.
In a tweet, Mr Shapps said these include: “Estimated prevalence of COVID-19 in a country; the level and rate of change in the incidence of confirmed positive cases; the extent of testing in a country; the testing regime and test positivity; the extent to which cases can be accounted for by a contained outbreak as opposed to more general transmission in the community; government actions; and other relevant epidemiological information.”
With those factors in mind, the Transport Secretary said Switzerland is “now on watch” with the Government “keeping a close eye” on the nation.
He further warned: “We will come back to it.”
However, the minister was probed on why Scotland had removed Switzerland yesterday, meanwhile, England had not yet made a move.
News presenter Naga Munchetty said this is an indication that the various Governments of UK nations are “working on different criteria”.
She detailed: “We’re all using the Joint Biosecurity Centre as criteria and, as I say, the key really for us is that 20 cases per 100,000 measured over a seven day period, and I think I am right in saying that Switzerland was 18.5 off the top of my head.
“So they didn’t quite get to the 20 but broadly speaking were doing the same thing.”
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Mr Shapps added that Switzerland was not yet “accelerating quickly”.
He continued: “In Scotland, they decided to act just a bit sooner, which we won’t know until next week perhaps whether that was the right or wrong thing to do, but it is an indication that the rules can be different.”
The news comes as the UK axes Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago from its quarantine-free list.
This means all holidaymakers returning from these nations will have to self-isolate for 14 days when they land back in the UK.
However, the changes also brought good news for Portugal, which has since been added to the list.
In recent weeks changes to the travel corridor list have been rapid.
Both Spain and France were axed suddenly, causing chaos for holidaymakers both abroad and those with impending plans.
The Transport Secretary himself was among those caught up in the France quarantine changes.
With this in mind, he warned Britons to think before they book a holiday this summer.
“I must say regardless of where you’re going, and having been caught out on this myself, everybody will be travelling with their eyes open this summer because this virus is incredibly unpredictable,” he said.
“More so in countries where we don’t have any control over the way the response is being handled.
“So people should always be prepared if they are going away to think about what would happen if a country then did require quarantine on return.”
At the time of writing, there are currently 69 countries on England’s list allowing for quarantine-free travel.
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