Mounting frustration in the travel industry about tourism restrictions has been little assuaged by the latest announcement of exemptions from the Foreign Office “no-go” list.
The FCO has had a general warning in place against non-essential travel anywhere abroad since 17 March, as the coronavirus pandemic spread.
This advice has the effect of invalidating standard travel insurance policies and causing travel firms to cancel holidays.
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Earlier this month 67 countries and territories, mainly in Europe, the Caribbean and Asia, were judged to be exempt. Serbia was subsequently removed from the exemption list.
A further 19 have now been added, but only a few are significant holiday destinations for British travellers.
The Foreign Office list of acceptable countries now aligns more closely to the separate no-quarantine list drawn up by the Department for Transport (DfT) for England.
For some, though, it will still be necessary to quarantine for two weeks on return to the UK.
In Asia, Cambodia, Laos and Sri Lanka are added to the Foreign Office exemptions but not the DfT list.
Cuba is the most significant of the Caribbean additions on the FCO list, which also includes Aruba, Curacao, Guadeloupe, St Barthelemy and the Franco-Dutch island split between St-Martin and Sint Maarten.
Several South Pacific islands and archipelagos have been added: the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia and Samoa. Their appearance on the list is irrelevant since British travellers are banned from transiting the US or New Zealand, which are the usual approach points.
The exemption given to a scattering of British islands in the southern hemisphere will also make little difference to anyone.
They comprise Ascension Island, the British Indian Ocean Territory, the Falkland Islands, Tristan da Cunha and St Helena. The last of these is only the second location listed by the Foreign Office as “Africa”. The other is another island some distance from the mainland, Reunion.
Nowhere on the African continent is included on the list, even though Rwanda and Tunisia were picked out by the European Union as among just 14 nations outside Europe regarded as low-risk.
But while the FCO regards the Portuguese islands of the Azores and Madeira as low risk, the DfT continues to insist that anyone flying in to the UK from these islands – and anywhere in mainland Portugal – undergo two weeks of self-isolation.
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have their own lists of no-quarantine exemptions.
It comes as the DfT added five countries to its list of “travel corridors”, from where travellers arriving in England no longer have to quarantine.
New countries added to the FCO “safe” list
British Indian Ocean Territory
Tristan da Cunha
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