France, Malta and the Netherlands have been removed from the UK’s safe travel list, transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed.
In total, six destinations have had their quarantine-free travel corridors revoked – France, Malta, the Netherlands, Monaco, Turks & Caicos, and Aruba.
The Foreign Office is also now advising against all but essential travel to all six countries. Anyone already in-destination need not return to the UK immediately, the FCO has said.
Shapps confirmed the decision in a tweet posted shortly before 10pm on Thursday (13 August).
It means arrivals from all six destinations will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the UK.
Shapps said the new rules would come into force at 4am on Saturday (15 August).
"Data shows we need to remove France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos, and Aruba from our list of coronavirus travel corridors to keep infection rates down," said Shapps.
"If you arrive in the UK after 4am Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days."
Eurotunnel has warned travellers already on the continent not to seek to return to the UK early before amending their tickets online.
"The service is already very busy this weekend and there is no additional capacity," it said in a statement.
"To avoid long queues and severe disruption we strongly advise against turning up at the terminal outside the allocated time. Customers will be unable to board alternative shuttles without a valid booking."
The updated FCO advice for France reads: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to France (including Corsica).
"This is based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks. Check separate travel advice pages for overseas territories of France.
"The FCO is not advising those already travelling in France to leave at this time.
"You should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.
"Contact your travel operator if you have any questions about your return journey."
Its new advice for all five other destinations is broadly similar.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “To have France removed from the government’s list of travel corridors is seriously worrying for the travel industry and the economy in general, given that there are so many British visitors there right now.
"However, for the travel agent community, the removal of Malta is even more worrying it’s a destination more likely to be booked by an agent as a package holiday.
"We are working hard with our partners, suppliers and fellow industry leaders to encourage consumers to have the confidence to book a holiday but this latest news will further damage consumer confidence.
"It’s clear these uncertain times are here to stay so flexibility is key – consumers must have more flexibility to be able to change the date of their booking and the destination should their holiday be affected by Covid-19.
"Our 48-Hours’ Flexi Pledge campaign is asking the industry to increase fee free flexibility and urge the government to give us more notice so travel agents can change bookings for customers and ensure they still have a holiday and money still flows through the system.
"There are still many destinations on the ‘safe’ list. I’d urge anyone wanting a summer break to contact their local travel agent who will be able to help them every step of the way.”
Airlines UK said the decision was "another devastating blow" for an industry "already reeling from the worst crisis in its history".
"Having the political will to move to a sub-national approach to quarantine in addition to a testing regime for arriving passengers so that those testing negative can avoid having to self-isolate – which other countries like Germany have already implemented – is urgently needed to provide carriers and customers with additional certainty around the ability to operate this autumn and winter, avoiding broad-brush, weekly ‘stop and go’ changes to travel corridors at a national level, which have proven so disruptive to airlines and passengers alike.”