Croatia is set to be ditched from the Government's quarantine-free list of holiday destinations on Thursday, giving up to 20,000 Britons just 30 hours to return to the UK to avoid having to self-isolate for 14 days.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is due to add the Balkan holiday hotspot to the UK's "red list" of nations after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
However, Portugal, which has been excluded from the "green list" of quarantine-free countries since the beginning of July, was on the brink of returning on Wednesday night after bringing down its Covid rate. A final decision is expected on Thursday.
Official figures show Croatia's cumulative seven-day average has risen to 27.4 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 of the population, which is well above the Government's safety threshold of 20 per 100,000.
It is more than treble its rate of 7.8 per 100,000 a week ago.
Croatia’s exclusion, due to be announced on Thursday afternoon , is expected to prompt an exodus of holidaymakers seeking to beat the deadline for having to quarantine, which is expected to be fixed as 4am on Saturday morning.
A similar move last Thursday saw thousands of the 160,000 British holidaymakers in France race back by land, air and sea to beat the night-time deadline.
It follows Government decisions to reimpose quarantine at short notice on other countries including Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Malta and Turks and Caicos.
Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency travel consultancy, said: "I think Croatia realised its case numbers were rising sharply so cannot be surprised. It's another country on the quarantine list which is not good for the UK economy.
"It means people returning will have to quarantine which means they cannot work. Half of the country cannot work from home. It is why testing of arrivals to the UK for coronavirus is needed to allow quarantine-free travel for those who prove to be negative for the disease."
Croatia attempted to head off the inevitable just hours before the decision with a statement from its national tourist office declaring that it "continues to be a safe tourist destination".
The Croatian Government has introduced a ban on bars and nightclubs opening after midnight, and restrictions on working indoors and on the use of dance floors other than for socially-distanced dining tables.
It claimed the latest data showed there were 1,371 active Covid cases, of which just under 40 per cent were on the coast, where most foreign tourists are located.
"The whole of tourism industry in Croatia is behaving responsibly and adhering to the prescribed epidemiological measures", said Kristjan Staničić, general director of the Croatian tourist board.
If Portugal is given the green light, there is likely to be a four- or five-day delay before the quarantine is lifted. Its Covid-19 rate of 14.6 cases per 100,000 is on a par with Greece's 14.3, both significantly below the Government's safety threshold.
The travel ban on Portugal provoked fury in Lisbon with Government ministers claiming it was "not consistent with reality and facts" and that it threatened to cause "lasting" damage to its tourist industry. Two million Britons a year visit the Algarve alone.
Cabinet ministers are next week expected to consider proposals for coronavirus testing of travellers arriving in the UK to enable them to shorten their time in quarantine.
They will also consider plans to open up "regional travel corridors" to "low-risk" areas in red list countries where travellers could also be exempted from quarantine.
- Shipshape in Croatia
- Read before you eat: Updated list of Lexington restaurants on probation
- Updated list of Lexington restaurants on probation as of mid-November
- John Lewis named best retailer to work for in the UK by employees
- London tops highest paying postcodes in the UK
- ‘We can be patient’ on raising interest rates, Federal Reserve policymaker says in KC
- California flu deaths up despite fewer infections. Watch for signs you need a doctor
- AP finds 13,000 asylum seekers on border wait lists
- FTSE CLOSE: Shares in the red while pound slides to $1.21
- Why General Electric, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Slumped Today
- Sterling wobbles after Bank hints at rate cut
- The two UK banks that still look good
- I flew business class on Vietnam Airlines, the only carrier that flies non-stop from the UK to Vietnam – here's what it was like
- Red-hot U.S. economy ignores global cooling
- Take Five: Black Friday shoppers to Brexit wreckage, world markets themes for the week ahead
- This week in MoneyWeek: Red Theresa’s manifesto
- UK investor body to apply red warning if a company's board lacks women
- How to get more out of your bank than the savings rate
- Exclusive interview: Ken Livingstone on Michael Gove's "Islamaphobia", and his radical plan for taxing London
- Fund managers turn up heat on UK companies over diversity, pensions, audit
Exclusive: Croatia to go on UK's quarantine 'red list' after infection rate triples in a week have 807 words, post on www.telegraph.co.uk at August 19, 2020. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.