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Health

England adds seven Greek islands to coronavirus quarantine list

FILE PHOTO: A view general of Oia, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on the island of Santorini, Greece, May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

LONDON (Reuters) - Seven Greek islands have been added to the list of countries from which travellers must quarantine when entering England to try to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, British transport minister Grant Shapps said on Monday.

Shapps told parliament that improved access to data meant he could now decide rules on an island-by-island basis depending on COVID-19 infection rates.

Passengers arriving from Lesbos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos will from 0300 GMT on Wednesday have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in England, he said.

The announcement was part of a new policy allowing different rules to be applied to different islands within states.

“For the first time, we have the data and the capacity to add and remove specific islands from quarantine while still providing maximum protection to the UK public,” he said.

Britain’s constituent nations have different quarantine policies. Last week, Wales added six Greek islands to its list, and Scotland put arrivals from all Greece under restrictions.

Airlines and tour companies have sought a change in the rules. Spain has urged Britain to adopt more flexible rules so that British tourists visiting areas such as the Balearic Islands, where there are fewer coronavirus cases than on mainland Spain, do not have to quarantine on their return home.

Shapps said infection rates in the Balearic and Canary Islands remained too high to be removed from the quarantine list.

Health minister Matt Hancock said earlier on Monday that Britain was looking at ways to reduce the quarantine period, possibly by requiring travellers to take a test eight days after arrival.

Writing by William Schomberg, editing by William James and Timothy Heritage

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