Coronavirus: Canary Islands added to UK's safe travel list

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Playa De Las Teresitas in TenerifeImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Playa De Las Teresitas in Tenerife

UK tourists seeking winter sun have been given a boost, after Spain's Canary Islands and the Maldives were added to the government's safe travel list.

It means visitors will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days on their return, with the Greek island of Mykonos and Denmark also deemed safe.

The changes apply to anyone arriving in the UK after 04:00 BST on Sunday.

But Liechtenstein has been taken off the list, so arrivals must isolate.

The changes apply to citizens from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Winter sun

The Canary Islands are popular with winter holidaymakers, being one of the few parts of Europe warm enough for beach holidays at that time.

However, the rest of Spain, including the Balearic Islands, remain subject to quarantine restrictions amid a surge in infections.

Beyond having to fill in passenger locator forms, visitors to the Canaries and Mykonos currently face no restrictions to entry.

But all visitors to the Maldives are required to prove they have had a negative Covid test within 96 hours of arrival.

And any UK citizen visiting Denmark must prove they have a "worthy purpose" for visiting, such as work or study, as Denmark deems Britain to be a high risk country.

Tourism is not considered a worthy purpose, although people with second homes in the country may visit.

The Department for Transport said the new additions to the safe list had seen a decrease in confirmed cases of coronavirus.

However, it said "a significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Liechtenstein" had led to it being removed from the current list of "travel corridors".

After so much doom and gloom, travel companies can suddenly see the sunshine. The Canaries are a key destination for UK airlines and tour operators.

And it is not an exaggeration to say that the removal of the quarantine will help these companies make it through the winter.

The government has, in effect, dialled-up the tourism "on switch".

However it will be a real test case for whether, in these uncertain Covid times, there is demand for travel.

With plenty of time for people to make winter bookings it's a timely moment.

British Airways recently scheduled a direct flight to the Maldives, so maybe they knew something we didn't.

Travel companies, which have seen demand slump due to the quarantine rules, welcomed the decision on the Canaries.

"The Canaries are a hugely important market for winter travel - representing over 50% of bookings for some tour operators - so this is very welcome news for the whole sector," said industry body Airlines UK.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI, said the holiday operator had not been able to take people on a holiday to the Canaries for 89 days.

"We're therefore delighted that UK flights will now resume from Saturday 24 October. The first flights will depart to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote this weekend, with many more added in the coming days."

There are now only a handful of places travellers from the UK can visit without facing restrictions - either when they arrive at their destination, or return.

There are hopes coronavirus testing for passengers could make travel to more destinations possible, by providing proof of a negative result before travellers leave the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, meanwhile, has said he is "hopeful" a new testing regime for arrivals to Britain can be in place by 1 December, reducing the amount of time people need to spend in quarantine.

However, new British Airways boss Sean Doyle last week called for tests for returning Britons before departure, warning the UK would "get left behind" without more radical action.

Earlier on Monday the airline cut flight numbers again, saying it would operate fewer planes than planned for the rest of the year as the pandemic continues to hit demand.

The Foreign Office still advises British nationals against all but essential international travel due to the pandemic.