Britons returning to the UK from European car holidays via Belgium can avoid having to quarantine if they drive through the country without stopping, it emerged today.
The UK Government said last night that travellers returning from Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra will now be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days in Britain.
British holidaymakers planning to travel to back to the UK by road from destinations such as Germany and the Netherlands normally have to pass through Belgium and Luxembourg, the latter of which was also removed from the exempt list last Friday.
But travel experts have pointed out Britons could get around the issue by travelling through Belgium or Luxembourg without stopping for fuel or any other reason.
This would mean they would not have to detour by hundreds of miles to avoid the two countries – and not have to go into 14-day quarantine when back in the UK.
The Department of Transport confirmed to MailOnline today this is true, as long as all passengers stay in the car and no one gets in or out while driving through Belgium.
But if the driver stops, travellers still do not need to self-isolate if no new passengers get in, no one gets out to mix with people outside, or people get off but not back on.
It comes as European holidaymakers face an increasingly complicated set of rules on where they can and can’t go amid fears over a second wave of coronavirus.
The 14-day quarantine begins for Britons as soon as they have left Belgium, so they could then stay in France for four days and then isolate in the UK for ten days.
However this is presuming that France will not be added to the UK’s quarantine list – a prospect now being feared by Britons as Covid-19 cases rise in the country.
Adding Belgium to the quarantine list presents a headache for travellers, given that the country lies on key routes for people driving or taking the train to the Continent.
The Department for Transport has already made clear rail passengers returning to Britain via Eurostar from Brussels to London must quarantine upon arrival in the UK.
If a car or coach travelling to Britain stops in Belgium, everyone inside must go into self-isolation once they arrive back in the UK.
Last night it was revealed that travellers returning from Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days following a spike in infections.
The three destinations were last night officially added to the list of places subject to quarantine rules for arrivals in Britain.
Malaysia and Brunei are to be taken off the list so travellers coming from there will no longer need to quarantine. It is thought Portugal could follow in the coming weeks.
The Daily Mail revealed yesterday how passengers arriving from Belgium would face restrictions after its number of new cases doubled in only a week.
Figures released last night showed its infection rate has risen to 27.8 new cases per 100,000 people.
This towers over the UK’s latest rate of 8.4. Belgium’s prime minister Sophie Wilmes was last week forced to introduce drastic new social distancing measures in the hope of avoiding a new national lockdown.
She announced a plan to limit contacts outside every household to the same five people for a month.
The total number of cases in the Bahamas has risen five-fold in the past three weeks to 751.
Earlier this week the Caribbean country re-imposed a lockdown that includes shutting the beaches and letting people leave their homes only for medicines and groceries.
Last month it banned international flights from arriving unless they were coming without passengers to pick up visitors and take them home.
Cases in the tiny principality of Andorra between France and Spain in the Pyrenees have also risen five-fold since mid-July.
The new restrictions are set to kick in at 4am tomorrow. Those involving Malaysia and Brunei will be introduced at 4am on Tuesday.
The UK’s decision to add Spain to the quarantine list last month sparked a diplomatic row and caught out holidaymakers in Spain including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
It also angered transport bosses who have called for increased testing to reduce the isolation period amid fears for the future of the sector.
Industry expert Paul Charles of the PC Agency travel consultancy said last night: ‘It was inevitable that Belgium would be added due to soaring numbers.
‘The Bahamas being included is a sign that even small islands, who rely on tourism, are not immune from such measures if they don’t take action fast enough to reduce case numbers. This addition in particular will be a wake-up call for the Caribbean.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘There has been a consistent increase in Covid-19 cases per 100,000 of the population in Belgium since the middle of July, with a fourfold increase in total cases over this time period.
‘In Andorra, new cases per week have increased five-fold over the same time period, while in the Bahamas the weekly case rate peaked at 78.6 last week, up from 3.1 in mid-July.
‘Brunei and Malaysia have been added to the Government’s travel corridor list following a decrease in confirmed cases of coronavirus.’