Slovenia is the latest country to be placed effectively off-limits for British travellers. It was added to the no-go list of countries “to keep everyone safe,” in the words of the transport secretary, Grant Shapps.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has returned the former Yugoslav republic to the list of countries from which travellers are required to quarantine. Anyone currently in Slovenia must return to the UK before 4am on Saturday 19 September or face two weeks in self-isolation.
In early summer, when the UK imposed quarantine on all foreign countries, Slovenia had some of the lowest infection rates in Europe, with almost cases during May and the first half of June.
Right through until the end of August, infection rates remained well below the European average.
But this month new cases have increased sharply – and, according to the DfT, more than doubled in the week to 16 September.
Its current rate is 29.1 cases per 100,000, compared with 34.5 for the UK. But the British government threshold is 20.
The Foreign Office now warns against all but essential travel to Slovenia, deeming it an “unacceptably high risk” to British travellers.
The official advice for UK citizens already there says: “Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.”
Slovenia now has the same status as countries that are generally regarded as more dangerous, including parts of Afghanistan and Somalia. It has the effect of nullifying standard travel insurance policies.
Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean has also been put on the “no-go” list – though this is of no relevance to British travellers since it is impossible to get from the island to the UK without passing through a
Mr Shapps, the transport secretary, tweeted: “Latest data shows we need to remove Slovenia and Guadeloupe from the Travel Corridor list to keep everyone safe.
“This means if you arrive in the UK from these destinations after 4am Saturday, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.”
It is not sufficient to cross from Slovenia into Italy, which has quarantine exemption; travellers must make it back to the UK.
The only direct flight that will get travellers back in time is easyJet’s morning departure from the capital, Ljubljana, to Gatwick. It is currently priced at £257 for a flight of just over two hours.
Travellers in the west of Slovenia can access Venice airport, from which British Airways has flights currently on sale at £82.
The government granted quarantine exemption to both Singapore and Thailand – both of which have extremely low rates of new coronavirus cases. But neither south-east Asian nation allows British travellers unless they have close ties.
There was some surprise that Denmark was not added to the no-go list, as it has a rate of 33.8. Conversely, Bulgaria – which has been well below the UK government’s threshold for weeks – is still regarded as too risky for British travellers.