The government’s decision to remove France and Malta from the UK’s list of countries with a travel corridor means the number of destinations Britons can jet off to is getting smaller by the week.
People began taking advantage of the travel corridors – meaning they do not have to self-isolate on their return – as a way to go on holiday, despite the threat of the coronavirus hanging over them.
But as travel corridors begin to slam shut – including the Netherlands and Malta this weekend – it leaves Britons scratching their heads as to where they can go without having to quarantine.
According to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the government is making quarantine decisions based on – among other things – whether the weekly infection rate per 100,000 is higher than 20.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government would “be absolutely ruthless” about such measures, “even with our closest and dearest friends and partners” – such as France and Spain, which are now both on the quarantine list.
Sky News has looked at the data to see which countries you could still travel to – and which ones may be taken off the UK’s safe list next.
There are 12 European countries already above the government’s self-imposed threshold and five more with a weekly rate close to 20 per 100,000.
However, the weekly COVID-19 infection rate is still below that rate in around 20 nations and poses less of a threat to British travellers.
But the weekly rate is not the only indicator the government is using.
Public Health England (PHE) told Sky News the risk assessment for each country is considered on an individual basis, and the weekly rate is weighted against several other factors.
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These include trends in incidence and deaths, prevalence, and information on a country’s testing capacity and positive test rate.
Government actions, the extent to which cases can be accounted for by a contained outbreak as opposed to more general transmission in the community, and an assessment of the quality of the data available will also each be taken into account.
Looking at trends, the number of cases is rising in most European countries. Only some countries in the Balkan region and northern Europe show signs of a reduction in the infection rates.
PHE said the positive test rate – the proportion of tests with a positive result – is another crucial measure to understand the pandemic in each country.
A high positive rate might indicate that the cases found are just a proportion of all the cases in the country, but a rising trend in the positive rate might suggest that the virus is spreading faster.
According to the World Health Organisation, a positive rate of less than 5%, at least for the last two weeks, is an indicator that the epidemic is under control.
Spain, which was taken off the safe list, and some countries in Eastern Europe are above that limit for the beginning of August, according to statistics from OurWorldinData.
Popular British tourist destinations are more likely to have restrictions placed on them if their cases are on the rise, while other countries may not be placed on the quarantine list despite meeting all the conditions.