Britons scramble to cancel flights to Italy or face race back home

Desperate Britons scramble to cancel flights to Italy or face race back home to beat 4am deadline on Sunday after country is added to UK quarantine list

  • Easyjet, Jet2 and British Airways customers have requested airlines for refunds
  • One Briton due to fly from Naples expressed concern over getting home in time
  • People travelling from Italy, Vatican City and San Marino will have to self-isolate
  • It follows Grant Shapps announcing that quarantine will be slashed to seven days

Desperate Britons are scrambling to cancel flights to Italy or face a race back home to beat the 4am deadline on Sunday after the country was added to the UK’s Covid-19 quarantine list.

Easyjet, Jet2 and British Airways customers have rushed to social media to request the airlines for refunds on flights and changes to destinations.

One person due to take a flight on Sunday afternoon from Naples to Manchester expressed their concern over getting home before the deadline, saying he is starting a new job next week and wants to avoid quarantining.

It follows Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announcing that people travelling to Britain from Italy, the Vatican City and San Marino will have to self-isolate from 4am on Sunday 18 October.  

People pictured in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport on October 2. Customers have rushed to request the airlines for refunds and changes to destinations on flights to Italy 

A Twitter user posted to Jet2: ‘Hi I’m in Italy had a flight back Sunday afternoon from Naples to Manchester but I have a new job starting next week so can’t quarantine for 14 days.

‘How can I get home before 4am on Sunday now that it’s off the travel corridor?’

Mark Bowes also tweeted to 10 Downing Street: ‘I was travelling back from work in Italy to see my family for one week and now I can’t.’

Other social media users flocked to the site for refunds, with one posting: ‘@easyJet Due to new restrictions, how do I get a refund for my flights to Italy next week?’

Shini Karandawala wrote: ‘@British_Airways booked a holiday to Italy. How can I change to another destination following govt advice?’

Ellen Bailey added: ‘@jet2tweets can I cancel my holiday booking? Due to visit Rome for three nights at the end of the month but tourists returning from Italy are now required to quarantine for two weeks – which I cannot do. Please advise’.

One Twitter user due to take a flight on Sunday afternoon from Naples to Manchester expressed their concern over getting home in time, while others requested refunds on flights 

It comes after Mr Shapps announced that quarantine for people returning to the UK will be slashed to seven days under a radical overhaul of the Government’s coronavirus travel ban.

He told the virtual ABTA travel industry conference on Wednesday that travellers will self-isolate at home and take a Covid test a week after landing.

UK visitors to Italy MUST take a Covid test 

Italy has introduced compulsory coronavirus testing for UK visitors.

Minister of health Roberto Speranza announced that arrivals from European countries ‘at greater risk for Covid-19’ – such as the UK, France and Spain – must provide evidence of a negative test taken in the 72 hours prior to travel.

Visitors unable to provide proof of a negative result at the border have to take a test in Italy.

Some airports offer free tests, while others may cost around £11. Travellers will not be allowed to leave until they have received their result.

Anyone who tests positive is quarantined until two consecutive negative results are recorded.

Italy trialled a coronavirus swab test in July that can give results in as little as 15 minutes. 

Health chiefs in Rome hope the rapid diagnostic test, made by South Korean firm SD Biosensor, will be used at airports to screen tourists for the infection.

It has already been used on 1,000 people in the northern region of Veneto giving an incorrect result twice, in comparison to the standard swab test.

The Transport Secretary ruled out testing on arrival at UK airports and ports, adding: ‘We’re proposing a domestic test regime, where people land and wait a week, have a test and get early release.’

The test will need to take place ‘in person,’ he said, and will be provided by the private sector, in order to prevent putting additional strain on the NHS. Mr Shapps added the test will be paid for by the traveller.

‘We’re also proposing an internationally recognised system, in which Britain would be a trailblazer, where tests and isolation take place prior to travel and after travel and would require no quarantine,’ Mr Shapps said.

He added that he believed the measures described ‘will result in significantly more people flying in the months ahead’.

Anyone arriving in the UK from overseas must currently self-isolate for 14 days unless they have travelled from an exempt destination.

Last week, Mr Shapps announced the launch of the Global Travel Taskforce.

The group will be jointly chaired by Mr Shapps and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and will look at how a testing operation could be rolled out.

It will consult with the aviation, travel, healthcare and coronavirus testing sectors, and is expected to make initial recommendations next month.

The Transport Secretary did not earlier this week specify during the ABTA convention which day a coronavirus test would be taken on.

The UK’s travel sector has repeatedly called for testing at airports to be introduced as a way of reducing quarantine periods for those who get a negative result.

The chief executives of Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airports Group, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic said in a joint statement that the creation of the task force represented a ‘step in the right direction’.

Mr Shapps said: ‘The current measures at the border have saved lives.

‘Our understanding of the science now means we can intensify efforts to develop options for a testing regime and help reinvigorate our world-leading travel sector.

‘This new task force will not only help us move towards safer, smoother international travel as we continue to battle this virus but will also support global connectivity – helping facilitate more Covid-secure travel whilst protecting the population from imported cases.’

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