Grant Shapps shamed as Britons forced to scramble back from Croatia to ‘more dangerous’ UK

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Grant Shapps was asked to justify the decision to reimpose strict self-isolation policies on holidaymakers returning from Croatia despite some areas of the UK having a higher rater of new coronavirus infections. An estimated 20,000 Britons have been warned quarantine rules will come into effect from 4am on Saturday, causing hundreds of tourists to rush to airports in a bid to beat the deadline and avoid the 14-day isolation requirement. But BBC Today programme host Justin Webb challenged the Transport Secretary: “It is a fact that if you’re coming back from Croatia, for instance, to Oldham where there are 70.5 cases per 100,000, many, many more than in Croatia, you are coming from a less dangerous situation to a more dangerous one.

“And that feels crazy that you then have to stay home for two weeks.”

Mr Shapps defended the decision saying: “It clearly is a fact there is regionalisation going on, localisation of the disease in different places in this country and elsewhere.

“But just to be clear about what’s happened here. A week ago Croatia was seeing levels which were about the UK level.

“One week later, their levels have gone up from just 10.5 cases per 100,000 to 27.5 cases per 100,000 so it’s gone from the UK level to something way beyond where we had to remove France and Spain and others.”

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He continued: “We have to act and my heart goes out to Britons not least because, actually, I had to come home from Spain after the quarantine was posed on there just as I arrived.

“I had to quarantine for two weeks, I completely get the inconvenience involved in all of this but it is just a fact of the summer.

“The virus does not respond to any of us other than in the way we, in this country, choose to apply the rules.”

Croatia’s Ambassador to the UK Igor Pozak said it was a “regret” to see the UK fail to implement regional quarantine rules before putting his whole country back into the self-isolation list.

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Mr Pozak insisted only a few of Croatia’s 20 regions had experiences a spike in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks and holidaymakers could have been allowed not to quarantine if they remained in safe areas.

The Croatian diplomat said: “What we are trying to do in our constant dialogue with the British Government on this particular measure of quarantine is to somehow see whether it would be possible, something that other countries do, to have a more nuanced approach.

“So we regret that it was not possible for the UK Government to consider a regional approach, because in Croatia we have, as I said, witnessed these spikes in certain areas – for example in Zagreb in the capital and maybe among the young population.”

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The diplomat added: “But in Dubrovnik, its surroundings and the islands there were very, very few cases. And I deliberately mention Dubrovnik and the islands as that is where most of the British tourists go.

“And Dubrovnik has its own international airport and is naturally secluded from the rest of the country.

“Germany, as I said, has introduced this model, and has introduced measures for only two of the Croatian counties and we have 20 counties in Croatia.”

The UK last week reintroduced quarantine on France, The Netherlands, Monaco, Malta and Turks and Caicos.

Earlier self-shielding rules were also introduces on Spain and Belgium because of growing concerns about a surge of cases across the continent.

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