BORIS Johnson is facing pressure from Scotland and Wales to add Greece to the quarantine list after both countries removed the holiday hotspot from the safe travel list.
Scotland put Greece back on its quarantine list yesterday, and Wales has asked travellers from the island of Zante to quarantine – but England has yet to follow suit.
Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething warned that pressure was being put onto Boris Johnson’s government to enforce the same rules, with a meeting of the UK government and the devolved nations scheduled for today to discuss the matter.
He said: “There are concerns from our public health teams that the current advice and control measures for returning travellers are insufficient.
“There is an obvious need for us to consider the potential for changes to the regulations in Wales which would require travellers arriving in the UK from Greece and possibly elsewhere to self-isolate on their return.”
However, the cumulative number of cases per 100,000 of the Greek population over the course of seven days is currently 14 – well below the 20 per 100,000 believed to be Downing Street’s benchmark for imposing quarantine restrictions.
Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis said of his country’s current coronavirus rates: “”We’re well below that.”
He hit out at the Scottish government for imposing the quarantine restrictions, telling BBC Breakfast: “We have put in place a comprehensive set of protocols and measures, we take targeted measures where we see concentration (of cases).
“We feel that we are taking every possible precaution, so we feel that this is a bit harsh.”
In a later conversation the Today programme, he said the country was doing “everything in our power to ensure that every person that comes from the UK is kept safe”.
He added that Greece has “a much lower number of infections compared to most other countries in Europe”.
If England does follow, then tourists will likely be given little warning to return to the country, with previous changes forcing French and Spanish holidaymakers to frantically rush home with less than 48 hours notice.
While cases in Greece remain low compared to other European destinations, cases have been steadily climbing, with 10,524 overall infections and 3,804 deaths.
The country reported the highest new daily cases since the crisis began on August 26, with 283 new infections.
There are currently no quarantine restrictions if returning to England from Greece, although tourists need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form before travelling to avoid a €500 fine.
Now, TUI has stopped all holidays to Laganas, a resort in Zante, after two flights from the island to the UK reported cases on board.
The tour operator warned that the decision was made after a “lack of social distancing” was confirmed at the resort.
On August 25, TUI flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff confirmed 16 cases on board, leading to all 193 passengers being forced to quarantine for two weeks.
A second TUI flight which landed yesterday in Cardiff is also being told to self-isolate for two weeks due to concerns from the Welsh government.
According to the BBC, a passenger who flew from Zante to Glasgow on August 23 has also tested positive, with 14 people on the flight contacted to self-isolate.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland, advised that anyone with holidays to Laganas after tomorrow would be given full refunds.
All other Zante holidays remain unaffected.
He explained: “The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our primary concern and recent cases shows that some customers are not following social distancing and Covid safety measures.
“It is therefore the right thing to do to protect and reduce a now identified potential risk to others by no longer offering holidays to this specific resort.”
Passenger Stephanie Whitfield, who was on the first TUI flight from Zante to Cardiff where passengers forced to self-isolate, claimed that little was done on board to follow coronavirus safety measures.
She told the BBC: “The flight was a debacle. The chap next to me had his mask around his neck. Not only did the airline not pull him up on it, they gave him a free drink when he said he knew a member of the crew.
“Loads of people were taking their masks off and wandering up and down the aisles to talk to others.
“As soon as the flight landed, a load of people took their masks off immediately. The flight was full of selfish ‘covidiots’ and an inept crew who couldn’t care less.”