Thomas Cook has stopped selling holidays to Turkey and Poland after they were put on the UK government's red quarantine list and tourists returned home at 4 a.m. on Saturday or were in self-isolation for two weeks.
From 4 a.m. on Saturday, anyone returning from Turkey or Poland and the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will have to be quarantined for 14 days, Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced today.
The popular travel brand was relaunched last month as a covid-ready company, selling only vacations to destinations on the government's safe travel corridor list, and is committed to serving customers affected by rule changes To offer flexibility.
A spokesman said: “Turkey has been so popular since we started and it is a great shame we had to stop selling holidays to this fantastic country.
& # 39; We are in contact with customers who will be going there in the next two weeks to see if they want to move their vacation to another location or at a later date. We also contact all customers currently on vacation in Turkey to help them decide what to do.
"For all other customers who have booked a holiday in Turkey and would like to discuss their options, give us a call or contact us. Our team will be happy to help."
However, fear reigned on Twitter tonight as tourists in Turkey battled the decision to return home or stay and face a long quarantine on their return.
Chloe Brammah, a freelance beauty technician currently working in Turkey, told MailOnline she was concerned that she would lose revenue if quarantined in the UK.
Chloe Brammah, a freelance beauty technician pictured in Turkey yesterday, told MailOnline that she feared she would lose revenue if quarantined on her return
Chloe, whose flight doesn't take off until next Saturday, said she decided to stay in the country fearing there won't be any flights tomorrow because everyone will be leaving quickly
"You didn't give us enough time to get home at all," she said.
On Twitter, she wrote: "Why did I only come to quarantine when I am at home? I now need a flight home before Saturday."
Chloe, whose flight doesn't take off until next Saturday, said she decided to stay in the country fearing there won't be any flights tomorrow because everyone will be leaving quickly.
On Twitter tonight, other Britons flying out because of a break in Turkey wanted to find out from their tour operators whether they would be able to switch flights or get a refund.
A social media user tweeted the On The Beach travel agent, “The government's travel advice for Turkey changed today, but I will be flying on Sunday. Does that mean the trip is canceled and a refund is due? & # 39;
Many other users have tweeted similar questions to their own tour operators.
Some were concerned about the looming financial impact of a two-week quarantine on their return.
Turkey was added to the quarantine list. That two-week isolation on return will hit my finances differently, ”tweeted one user.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced tonight that Poland and Turkey would be placed on the "red list" of travel quarantine.
Many customers planning to travel to Turkey in the coming weeks expressed concern about their vacation situation following the announcement on Twitter this afternoon
Tonight, Transport Minister Grant Shapps tweeted: & # 39; TRAVEL CORRIDOR UPDATE: The latest data shows that we need to remove Turkey, Poland and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba from the # TravelCorridor list this week.
"That said, if you arrive from these destinations on Saturday, October 3, 4:00 am, you will have to self-isolate."
He added, "You MUST self-isolate when entering the UK from a non-exempt country. Starting tomorrow, we will increase penalties for those who refuse to a maximum of £ 10,000 for repeat offenders."
There were fears earlier today that Greece and Italy might have quarantine rules after the former recorded 20.5 cases per 100,000 people in recent days, while Italy was a little over 20 per 100,000.
The government currently uses a threshold of 20 cases per 100,000, along with a number of other criteria, when deciding whether to add or remove countries from its quarantine list.
The 7-day rate of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Poland is now 25.9, up from 15.6 the previous week.
Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba reported 142.4 new cases per 100,000, down from 142.4 the previous week.
Meanwhile, Turkey's rate has dropped to 12.9 from 14.2 the week before. However, there are fears that these numbers are not being adequately reported and that the actual spread of infections is much higher, putting vacationers at higher risk.
Today's announcement by Mr Shapps means that holidays are currently only possible in Germany, Sweden, Italy, mainland Greece, Gibraltar, San Marino and Liechtenstein without restrictions.
The list of countries British travelers can visit without being in self-isolation for 14 days continues to shrink.
The list of places Brits can travel to and return to without quarantine or Covid testing was already reduced to just nine last week.
Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and the Caribbean island of Curacao were removed from the safety list last Thursday.
There are still around 60 countries on the UK 'green list' that do not require quarantine on return, but many of the nations have their own arrival restrictions or are completely closed to visitors.
Mr Shapps said Poland was put on the "red list" after the rate of positive tests in the country nearly doubled from 3.9 percent to 5.8 percent, along with a "rapid increase in weekly cases".
The transport minister said travel to Turkey will be restricted due to the way the country is keeping an eye on Covid-19.
He said: “We are also removing TURKEY from the list. The Turkish Ministry of Health has defined the number of new COVID-19 cases differently than the definition of international organizations such as WHO and ECDC. That's why we've updated our risk assessment for the country. & # 39;
Downing Street remains under heavy pressure to change UK quarantine rules amid mounting fears about the future of the aviation and travel industries.
Ministers have been urged for months to replace the current 14-day self-isolation restrictions for people returning to the UK from high-risk countries with a more sophisticated system of airport tests.
Proponents believe tests on arrival could open the door to cut the two-week quarantine period to potentially less than seven days.
Mr Shapps reminded people that breaking the self-isolation rules could result in a maximum fine of £ 10,000
In a double testing approach, travelers would be tested upon arrival and then asked to self-isolate for about five days before being tested a second time.
Two negative tests would be enough to allow people to end their quarantine period and return to normal life.
Ministers were reluctant to approve airport tests, however, amid concerns that the approach might fail to identify some people with the virus.
This is due to the time it may take for the virus to be detectable after the time of infection.