Greece is on the brink of becoming the next country to be added to Britain’s two-week quarantine list after an alarming surge in coronavirus cases.
Hundreds of thousands of British tourists face having their plans plunged into chaos after EU figures showed the Greek infection rate had quadrupled in two weeks.
It has soared past the benchmark of 20 Covid cases per 100,000 people – the point at which Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the introduction of quarantine measures was triggered.
Rising levels of cases in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Croatia were also being monitored last night as travel experts warned it was ‘inevitable’ that more countries would be added to the Government’s so-called ‘red list’.
It came as 160,000 holidaymakers scrambled to get home from France, Malta and the Netherlands before new quarantine rules came into force at 4am yesterday.
Greece set a temporary 50-person limit on public gatherings on Friday and said restaurants and bars must close by midnight in Athens and other parts of the country including Mykonos, Crete, Paros, Kos, Santorini, Rhodes and Zakynthos.
The limit on public gatherings will last until August 24 and will be imposed in parts of the country where infection numbers have risen dramatically in recent weeks.
Last week the government ordered the quarantining of the country’s third-largest migrant camp, on the island of Chios, after a Yemeni asylum seeker and a staff member tested positive.
Greece, where 223 people have died during the pandemic, was seen as safe for tourists. But cases surged after it reopened its borders to Britons in mid-July to revive its economy.
Travel expert Alex Macheras, who correctly predicted quarantine rules in France, the Netherlands and Malta last week, said: ‘Early in the pandemic Greece imposed a hard lockdown and controlled the spread of the virus. But this has been relaxed to the point of being totally random.
‘As a result, the number of cases has soared. It is an example of a country wrestling with the competing interests of public health and the economy.
‘Anyone travelling abroad must do it with their eyes open that there is a danger that quarantine can be imposed at any moment.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘Public health remains the UK’s top priority, which is why we make changes to the list as necessary.’