The government will look at the latest Covid infection data from several popular island destinations later today (10 September), transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed.
Shapps comments on Sky News on Thursday morning once again raise the prospect of potential island-specific travel corridors, opening up travel to Spain and Portugal’s islands.
It comes after the government earlier this week announced it was switching to a more targeted, regional travel corridor regime that would make allowances for the differences in coronavirus infection between different island destinations.
The upshot was that as of 4am on Wednesday (9 September), quarantine-free travel to seven Greek islands was ended – Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos.
Regional quarantine measures, though, have long been a demand of the travel sector, with there being broad support for a more nuanced quarantine operation.
In response to a question on whether the government was going to reopen travel corridors to Majorca and Ibiza, Shapps said he would be making further announcements on travel corridors on Thursday,
"We’ll wait for the latest evidence from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) before we make those decisions," he said.
"We do now have the ability to analyse island data in much more detail so we’ve been able to with Greece, for example, not exclude the whole of Greece but remove seven islands."
He added: "We’ll be able to look at islands in other places, notably the Portuguese and Spanish islands.
"But whether their data justifies that at the moment is something we’ll have to wait for until later today once we’ve completed our discussions with the JBC."
Shapps raised the prospect of regional travel corridors last month, giving hope of a resumption of quarantine-free travel to Spain’s islands in particular.
Spain’s islands are largely accessible via direct UK flights. However, travel to Portugal’s Madeira and Azores archipelagos is most commonly routed through its major mainland airports, such as Lisbon and Porto.
While both the Azores and Madeira have been exempt from the Foreign Office’s global no-travel advisory since the advice was partially lifted in July, the restrictions on mainland Portugal were only lifted last month.
Portugal’s rate of coronavirus infection as a whole has since risen above the government’s 20 cases per 100,000 people over seven days measures, seen as being the threshold for removing quarantine-free travel.
However, Portugal escaped being cut from the list last Thursday, although it remains to be seen whether the mainland is taken off the so-called "safe list" today, effectively introduced two island-specific travel corridors to Madeira and the Azores.