Wow. The UK Just Banned Travel From An Entire Continent


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UPDATE: The UK has now suspended ALL travel corridors (click for more details)

Thursday is the day on which we’ve come to expect the UK government to tell us which countries it’s adding to its travel corridor list and which it’s removing and, on the whole, we don’t usually see too many big surprises when the announcements are made. Yesterday, however, was no ordinary Thursday.

With a new virulent strain of coronavirus detected in Brazil, it was widely expected that the UK would place some kind of ban on travelers originating in Brazil (a travel ban that probably wouldn’t have made too much difference as Brazil has already banned flights from the UK) but what we heard announced yesterday went a lot further than that.

Yesterday, the UK banned all flights from South America.

As of 04:00 (UK) today, 15 January 2021, entry to the UK has been banned for non-UK/Irish nationals and non-UK residents arriving from the following destinations in South and Central America:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Bolivia
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

In addition to the ban on travel from the countries listed above, the UK has also extended the ban to cover arrivals from Portugal (for its close ties to Brazil) and Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Azores (for their close ties to Portugal).

To be clear, this ban not only affects travelers who have been visiting the countries listed above, but it also affects travelers transiting those countries on the way to the UK.

Any exemptions usually in place – including for those related to employment – will not apply, although hauliers who have been in or transited through Portugal (only) in the last 10 days will be exempt to allow transport of essential goods.

In an attempt to make this new ruling as effective as possible, the UK has also introduced a ban on all flights from counties/territories on the list above that offer non-stop services to the UK (Argentina, Brazil, Cape Verde, and Portugal).

British and Irish Nationals, and third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK, will be permitted to return to the UK but will be expected to self-isolate for 10 days upon their arrival and are not permitted to use the UK’s ‘Test To Release’ scheme to reduce the self-isolation period.

More Countries Removed From England’s Travel Corridor List

UPDATE: The UK has now suspended ALL travel corridors (click for more details)

As well as imposing severe restrictions of travel to/from South America, the UK government also conducted its weekly review and made changes to the list of countries on England’s travel corridor list.

As of 04:00 (UK) on Saturday, 16 January, travelers arriving into England from Aruba, Bonaire, St Eustatius, Saba, and Qatar will be required to self-isolate for 10 days. Travelers arriving from these countries are allowed to reduce their self-isolation period by using the UK’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme.

Thoughts

I’ve been a huge critic of most of the things the UK government has been doing over the past 10 months (incompetence and ignorance have been rife, public funds have been wasted in the millions and the leadership has been late to act in almost all critical situations), but I have to applaud this latest move regarding South America.

While admittedly I would have liked to see a complete ban on travel from South America (I don’t think there should be any exceptions), it’s good to see that the government realized that only banning travel from Brazil would have little or no impact if the key aim was to reduce the chance of the new South American coronavirus strain entering the UK.

If the new strain of coronavirus is in Brazil it’s almost certainly already in other South American nations as well, so rather than trying to second guess which nations offer the greatest risk, a blanket ban on the whole continent would seem to make the most sense.

For anyone wondering why the UK government has singled out Portugal (and its related islands and territories) for a ban but hasn’t placed a ban on travel/flights from Spain (which has equally significant connections to South America), it’s because Portugal has been allowing passengers from most nations to transit through its airports while Spain has banned everyone but its own nationals and residents.

As far as the new edits to the UK’s travel corridor list go, I’ve always found it a little strange that Aruba and Bonnaire were on the travel corridor list while Curacao was not (given how closely linked all three islands are I would have expected all to be on the list or all to be excluded), but I guess that situation has now been addressed.

The UK removed the UAE from its travel corridor list early on Tuesday morning so as the border between Qatar and the UAE has now been reopened (last week), it’s not particularly surprising to see Qatar removed from the travel corridor list.

What this all means is that UK travelers no longer have access to some of their favorite airlines and winter destinations (unless they’re prepared to self-isolate upon their return), but as most people in the UK would be breaking the law if they traveled right now, this probably isn’t going to be an issue in the short-term.

Bottom Line

As a result of the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in Brazil, as of 04:00 (UK) today, 15 January 2021, entry to the UK has been banned for non-UK/Irish nationals and non-UK residents arriving from all South American countries, Panama, Portugal, Cape Verde, the Azores, and Madeira.

British and Irish Nationals, and third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK, will be permitted to return to the UK but will be expected to self-isolate for 10 days upon their arrival and are not permitted to use the UK’s ‘Test To Release’ scheme to reduce the self-isolation period.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Wow…you have to applaud this move? Im a Brit now stuck in Portugal with my Mexican wife and cannot go see her family in Mexico on confirmed flights in 3 days time because it connects in London for 1 night.

    Portugal is not Brazil. Brazil is not the whole of a continent. UK needs a negative test anyway

    You applaud this move…youre an idiot. A huge one

    • Thanks for the laugh. The UK is under strict lockdown, travel rules have been changing rapidly and suddenly for months, you decided to travel via the UK, but I’m the idiot. Lol!

  2. UK leader ignorance. You can not stop this virus, since it is already widespread worldwide. You can only modulate its effect on people via optimized immune response.

    Like the flu, this virus spreads quickly, activates from dormancy from the immune human carriers, seasonally. The virus explosively infects the nonimmune, spreads some more among the nonimmune staying at home, and then will go into dormancy again in the late spring and summer in the temperate zones… only to repeat the cycle again next Fall.

    it will continue to mutate as it encounters immune pressure from the host humans.

    All of this happens with or without government action. The only solution is for each person to optimize their immune system; increased Vitamin D3 blood levels are a good start.

    Smart government would have those that think they have been infected take an antibody test, and with a positive result, to opt them out of the vaccine, to prioritize for those that really need it. In the US, up to 30% of the public may have already had the infection. 40% of the public shows no symptoms, while infected, per CDC.

    Why does the UK use a one-size-fits-all policy on restriction of movement?

    Ignorant bureaucrats, and ignorant public to applaud their ignorance.

    • They’re not trying to stop the virus. They’re trying to stop particular strains of the virus. The two aims are very different.

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