Canary Islands added to Government's 'green' quarantine free list, just in time for half-term winter sun

Charles Hymas
·3 min read
Laughing girl jumping at sunset from sand dune with arms wide open - some motion blur. I took a leap of faith – and look where it landed me: the Maspalomas Dunes, of Gran Canaria -  Kemter
Laughing girl jumping at sunset from sand dune with arms wide open - some motion blur. I took a leap of faith – and look where it landed me: the Maspalomas Dunes, of Gran Canaria - Kemter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

The Canary Islands, Maldives and Mykonos have been granted “travel corridors” sparking a race for the best deals by families and holidaymakers seeking half-term winter sun.

They will be able to fly to the islands from Sunday at 4am when the requirement for 14 days self isolation on their return is lifted.

Denmark has also been granted a travel corridor enabling travellers to sidestep quarantine on their return but it remains closed to Britons unless they have a good reason to travel to the country.

The moves, announced on Thursday evening by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, are expected to provoke a surge of last-minute bookings for cheap holidays to the islands which have benefited from a steady decline in Covid-19 rates.

On Thursday there were bargain prices for return flights of just £34 to Tenerife although they rose to £51 within half an hour of the announcement, £60 direct to Gran Canaria (or £48 with a change) and £53 to Lanzarote. Skyscanner, a flight price comparison site, reported a doubling in traffic.

There may, however, also be a race for the best hotels and holiday deals with German families as Germany removed the Canary Islands from its list of high-risk destinations from Saturday.

Return flights to Mykonos, the last of the Greek islands to get a travel corridor following Crete becoming quarantine-free last week, were just £84 on Thursday afternoon. Flights to the Maldives stood at £792 direct, as a stop-over change could leave travellers at risk of having to quarantine.

Prospective holidaymakers were warned to anticipate price hikes if, as expected, there is a surge in demand. Bookings for holidays to Crete surged by 40 per cent when its travel ban was lifted, while those for Portugal rose 15-fold on the day its UK quarantine was lifted.

The travel corridor for Mykonos means the whole of Greece, including the mainland and all its islands, are now open to British holidaymakers without requiring quarantine on their return.

The travel corridors to the Canary Islands come as mainland Spain heads towards national lockdown after Covid cases peaked at 16,973 on Wednesday, some 7,000 more than at the height of the pandemic in April. 

It is the first time British holidaymakers will be able to fly to the islands since quarantine was suddenly re-imposed at the end of July, trapping Mr Shapps in 14 day self-isolation on his return.

Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy The PC Agency, said the decision not to impose quarantine on Germany and Sweden with their rising Covid rates indicated “increasing irrationality which is adding to the travel sector’s difficulties due to lack of certainty.”

But he added: “It’s encouraging to see corridors open up to popular winter destinations such as Maldives and Canary Islands, giving UK travellers a few more options. These smaller nations rely on the British tourist pound so it will be warmly welcomed.”

Timeline | Financial support measures to fight coronavirus
Timeline | Financial support measures to fight coronavirus

Tui, the UK's largest travel firm, announced it would resume flights to the Canary Islands from Saturday, while Thomas Cook also added holidays to the Spanish archipelago to its site.

TUI managing director Andrew Flintham said the removal of quarantine requirements for the islands was "a positive step forward for our business and all our customers who wish to enjoy a well-deserved break overseas".

But he urged ministers to "work closely with the industry on airport testing so we can open up more destinations in the coming weeks".

He added: "We must move away, where possible, from the anxiety our industry faces waiting for the new list of places people can travel to each week. This level of uncertainty is damaging for business and all those employed in our industry."