Thursday 17 December 2020 5:09 pm

Break: Government freezes quarantine list for Christmas period but US Virgin Islands fall foul

The Government has added Uruguay, Namibia and the US Virgin Islands to the list of countries returning passengers must quarantine after visiting.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said there will be more changes to the quarantine list until January 7th, mitigating the chance of travel chaos over Christmas, unless it is an “emergency.”

No countries were taken off the list this week.

The new travel corridors will come into effect on the early hours of Saturday morning, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed by tweet.

Last week the Canary Islands had their travel corridor taken away due to an increase in cases. Tenerife has now announced that it will shut its borders for 15 days.

The latest additions come after the government’s “test to release” system, designed to help people cut the time they have to spend in quarantine after travelling, kicked off on Tuesday.

Before the Open newsletter: Start your day with the City View podcast and key market data

Under the scheme, travellers who wish to can take a coronavirus test at private expense on the fifth day after arriving. If it comes back negative, they can leave self-isolation.

But it was a shaky start for the new system, with the list of approved test providers only put up five hours before the scheme began.

And it quickly emerged that only three of the 11 listed providers were actually supplying tests at the time the scheme opened. Two of these were quickly removed from the programme.

The chaotic start was lambasted with businesses, who bemoaned the fact that ministers had not sought professional advice on setting up the scheme.

Read more: ‘Test to release’ travel scheme off to ‘chaotic’ start

Many travel firms had hoped that the “test to release” programme would enable them to recoup some revenue over the holiday period, but were disappointed by the underwhelming rollout.

This morning the World Tourism Organisation revealed that the pandemic had set the industry back thirty years, with tourist numbers at levels not seen since 2030.