As the last few seats on the day’s only flight from Slovenia to the UK sell for over £300 each before quarantine kicks in, the government’s “no-go” assessments have been called into question.
On Thursday the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, removed quarantine exemption from the former Yugoslav republic in order, he said, “to keep everyone safe”.
Anyone currently in Slovenia must return to the UK before 4am on Saturday 19 September or face two weeks in self-isolation.
The only flight between the two nations on Friday is on easyJet from Ljubljana to Gatwick, with two seats remaining at €337 (£312) each.
It is not clear why Denmark, whose new infection rate for coronavirus is higher than Slovenia’s – and 69 per cent above the UK government’s threshold – has retained quarantine exemption.
Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy The PC Agency, said the decision also called into question the validity of adding Portugal to the no-go list earlier this month.
He said: “The Denmark decision shows a lack of consistency – it has a similar profile to Portugal with a rapid increase in infections, test positivity under 3 per cent and a rate above the government’s own criteria.
“So why is Portugal on the quarantine list but Denmark isn’t?
“Furthermore, it is remarkable that there isn’t one country in Africa you can visit without having to quarantine on your return to the UK for 14 days.”
The entire African continent is on the no-go list, with each nation regarded as presenting an “unacceptably high risk” to British travellers.
Finland, which has been one of Europe’s most successful nations in suppressing coronavirus, allows no-quarantine visits from Rwanda and Tunisia – two of just 14 nations worldwide .
Tunisia requires visitors from the UK to present a certificate of a negative test before arrival. They then self-isolate for two weeks – though they can pay for a test after seven days of self-isolation. If it is also negative, they can end quarantine early.
Mr Charles said: “It appears that the UK is doing a good job of isolating itself from the rest of the world, just at a time pre-Brexit when it needs friends in other countries.
“The answer is simple: abandon the inconsistent quarantine policy and ask for negative Covid test certificates for anyone entering the UK from a high-risk area.”
The Department for Transport has said that it examines a wide range of data including virus incidence rates, each country’s testing capacity and “positivity” rates – the proportion of tests that detect coronavirus.
Meanwhile Wales has reinstated quarantine exemption for visitors to Gibraltar. It was the only one of the four UK nations to require visitors to the British overseas territory to self-isolate upon return.