UK authorities have banned arrivals from a number of South American countries as fears grow over a new strain of Covid-19.
Passengers who have been in or transited through Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, Suriname, French Guiana, Uruguay and Venezuela in the past ten days will be barred from entry.
Cape Verde and Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) will face similar restrictions.
However, the changes do not include British and Irish nationals or third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK.
These groups will be able to enter the UK but are required to self-isolate for ten days on arrival along with their household.
There will also be a flight ban on any countries with direct flights to the UK. These are Argentina, Brazil, Cape Verde and Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores).
This excludes cargo and freight without passengers.
The decision to ban travel from these destinations follows the discovery of a new coronavirus variant first identified in Brazil, that may have spread to countries with strong travel links to the country.
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 ten days will be exempt to allow transport of essential goods.
From Monday passengers from all destinations around the world will also be required to present a negative Covid-19 test result before travelling to England, to help protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally and to identify those who may currently be infectious.
Latin American Travel Association
Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin American Travel Association (LATA), said the news was worrying for the local tourism sector.
“LATA is aware of reports of a new Covid-19 variant that has manifested in specific areas of Brazil resulting in the UK decision to implement a flight ban from Brazil and the whole of South America.
“At LATA, we appreciate that this a rapidly evolving scenario and understand the decision to impose a temporary ban whilst the situation is being assessed.
“That said, it is vital that this travel ban is reviewed on an ongoing basis subject to the epidemiological situation and the associated risks and not just forgotten about or kicked down the road endlessly.”
He added: “At LATA, we are committed to lobbying for a test-and-release model to enable travel to restart in a safe way.
“This model was implemented for lorry drivers stuck in Dover prior to the Christmas period.
“If it works for a lorry driver, it can work for tourists!”