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Seven Greek islands added to England's quarantine list as Government opts for more local restrictions

Seven Greek islands added to England's quarantine list as Government opts for more local restrictions

Travellers returning to England or Northern Ireland from seven Greek islands will have to self-isolate for 14 days from 4am on Wednesday 9 September. The announcement comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps unveiled a new 'islands policy', which will mean islands can be added to or removed from England's travel corridor list separately to countries as a whole.

The new quarantine requirements will affect those arriving in England or Northern Ireland from the islands of Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos. Travellers arriving in Wales from six Greek islands are already required to quarantine, while the whole of Greece is included in Scotland's quarantine requirements.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is now also advising against all but essential travel to Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos. This applies to travellers from across the UK, not just England – and can often be a key trigger for refunds if you've a trip booked.

For more help, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide, and for the latest on fast-changing travel restrictions, see our Top 15+ holiday destinations – where can you still travel to? guide.

What is the Government's new "islands policy"?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the House of Commons today that, in a change to its 'travel corridors' policy which governs quarantine requirements, England will now be able to add or remove islands from its quarantine list separately from countries as a whole.

However, at the moment this move to more localised restrictions only affects countries with islands – England will not be able to introduce regional travel corridors within a country's mainland.

I'm travelling to England from one of the seven Greek islands – what do I need to know?

Unless you fall within an exemption, if you arrive in England from one of the affected Greek islands after 4am on Wednesday, you will:

  • Need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to England.
  • Not be allowed to leave the place you are staying for the first 14 days you are in England, except in very limited situations (known as 'self-isolating').

England's quarantine rules generally apply to travellers arriving in England who have been in a non-exempt area at any point within the past 14 days. That means if, for example, you arrive in England from mainland Greece, but had been to an affected Greek island within the past 14 days, you will need to quarantine.

I had a trip booked and it's been cancelled – what are my rights?

At the moment, some travel to Greece is still going ahead, but other trips are being cancelled – for example, Tui has already said it will be cancelling some package holidays to the Greek islands. The good news is if your flight or package holiday is cancelled by a travel firm, it has to refund you in full by law:

  • Under the Package Travel Regulations, if a package holiday's cancelled you're due a full refund within 14 days. Though right now, it's often taking longer and getting a full refund during the pandemic has not always proved easy (for more help, see cancelled package holiday refunds).

  • If you have a flight and it's cancelled, then under EU flight delay rules you're due a full refund within seven days. Though again, right now there are delays to refunds and some have struggled to get them (for more help, see cancelled flight refunds).

Hotel stays booked directly are unlikely to be cancelled. If they are, there's no specific regulation governing these like there is with package travel and flights. You'd likely be owed a refund, but it would depend on local law.

I had a trip booked and it's not cancelled – what are my rights?

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is now advising against all but essential travel to Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos.

This means that if you have a package holiday booked to one of these destinations, under the Package Travel Regulations you should be able to get a refund within 14 days – even if the trip's not been cancelled.

If your flight or holiday is still running, you can't get a refund from the firm directly and you have insurance, it may cover you.

If an FCDO warning is in place for your destination at the time you're due to travel, you're likely to be able to claim on insurance if your policy covers coronavirus cancellation – this will usually be the case if you took out the insurance and booked the trip before mid-March, though this is not the case for all policies, so check.

It's worth noting that the FCDO ISN'T currently warning against travel to mainland Greece, or to the islands of Antiparos and Paros (which are included in the Welsh Government's quarantine requirements).