The UK has decided to close its borders to travellers from South America and Portugal on Friday as interest develops over a new Covid-19 variant believed to have emerged in the Brazilian Amazon. This region is still struggling to cope with the disease.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated that the travel ban will come into play from 04:00 GMT today (15/01/2021).
However, British and Irish citizens and foreign nationals with residence rights will still be able to travel but must isolate for 10 days. On Thursday (the 14/01/2021), a further 1,248 Coronavirus deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported in the UK. There were also another 48,682 daily Covid-19 cases and a record figure of 1,564 deaths the previous day. The number of citizens in the UK to have received the first dose of the new vaccine has increased to 2,918,252 – up by 278,943 from Wednesday.
The new UK travel ban applies to people travelling from, or within, South American countries. This includes Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela in the last 10 days. There is also a travel ban from islands such as
Madeira and Azores in Portugal. Along with this, Panama and Cape Verde, off the West African coast have also joined the list.
Following more discussions, Mr Shapps said he “can’t provide an end date” to the new rules.
He also said the prevailing restrictions on global travel meant he didn’t “expect a large number of Brits to have jaunted off to South America and we’re not expecting to see a big repatriation issue as a result”. He further added that there would be an exemption for hauliers travelling from Portugal to allow the transportation of essential goods.
Britain had already banned flights from South Africa. Brazil banned flights from Britain on Christmas.
Qatar and the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba have also been removed from the UK’s travel corridor lists, meaning anyone arriving from these countries after 04:00 GMT on Saturday will have to quarantine for ten days.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that he was “very concerned” about the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus. The new variants of the coronavirus were previously identified in the UK and South Africa.