LONDON • A heap of new travel restrictions has thrown Europe’s long-anticipated August break into disarray, dealing a setback to airlines and leaving some passengers on the hook for the cost of last-minute changes.
In the United Kingdom, quarantine measures have been reimposed on Spain, France, Malta and the Netherlands.
With infection rates rising, Croatia could be next, creating another headache for would-be travellers who are running out of time as schools reopen.
Finland has removed most European Union (EU) countries from its “green travel list”, with only arrivals from a handful of states now able to enter the country without restrictions, the government said yesterday. The tougher rules, aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus, mean that only people coming from Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia and Lithuania will be allowed into Finland without proving they have a valid reason for travel and self-isolating for two weeks.
Arrivals from a number of non-EU countries, including Georgia, Rwanda and South Korea, continue to be freely permitted under the measures which will come into force next Monday.
Ryanair Holdings, Europe’s biggest discount carrier, has cut back on schedules, saying the uncertainty has deterred people from booking trips. Deutsche Lufthansa’s Eurowings unit said on Tuesday it will cut capacity to Spain, in response to a German travel warning.
An industry proposal to move the UK away from country-based quarantines is gaining momentum. The government is working on ramping up Covid-19 testing at airports, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday, a move that could be used to ease the burden on travellers to self-isolate after arriving from overseas.
The heads of airlines including British Airways, Ryanair, EasyJet Plc and Virgin Atlantic Airways pressed their case this week in a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, asking for the quarantine to be replaced by tests for arrivals from high-risk countries because it is killing demand from big markets like the United States.
Mr Shapps is due to meet with ministers on Monday to discuss the alternatives, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
An industry proposal to move the UK away from country-based quarantines is gaining momentum. The government is working on ramping up Covid-19 testing at airports, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday, a measure that could be used to ease the burden on travellers to self-isolate after arriving from overseas.
For those who already have tickets, changing plans has become a minefield of terms and conditions that vary by carrier. While customers are entitled to a refund when an airline cancels a flight, they typically have to work hard to get it, such as calling a busy customer-service desk. Carriers are also offering vouchers or rescheduling for free, and making it easier to select these options. When a flight is still operating but now subject to quarantine, the guidelines are murky. Airlines are not obliged to pay cash refunds and generally are refusing to do so on upcoming trips.
Meanwhile, Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said yesterday her Covid-19 test taken a day earlier was negative, but she would continue to work remotely.
BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS