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UK bans inbound flights from Portugal and South America

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The Government has taken the slightly surprising step of banning incoming flights from the whole of South America, Portugal, Panama and Cape Verde. Non-UK residents will also be banned from reaching the UK via third countries.

Concern has been raised in recent days about a new coronavirus variant which was identified in Brazil. Whilst there had been pressure to block incoming UK flights from there, I don’t think anyone expected such a broad ban.

The full list of impacted countries is:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Bolivia
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • French Guiana
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Suriname
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

All direct passenger flights from the countries above to the UK are banned.

The restrictions will kick in from 4am on Friday morning. This puts passengers with tickets in a difficult position with very little time to make alternative arrangements.

UK residents will still be allowed to travel home via third countries. On arrival, they must quarantine for 10 days and will not be allowed to take part in the ‘test to release’ scheme from Day 5.

Residents of any of the countries on the list above will not be allowed into the UK.

Ironically, had the ban just been for Brazil as expected, it would have had no impact. Brazil placed its own block on incoming flights from the UK last month following the discovery of another Covid-19 variant.

Comments (73)

  • GERRY says:

    I have flights booked LHR to SJO early March with BA, no cancellation mail yet, hopefully they will cancel, is cancellation fee still 30 per leg ?

  • Doc says:

    Any idea how long we are expecting this to last?

    • Jonathan says:

      How long is a piece of string ? Everyone hoped (and assumed) that COVID 19 would be under control in a matter of months, but the world is now over 12 months into the deadly virus spread, and things have just been getting worse for the UK. It’s not going to slow down unless everyone treats the virus like it will kill them.

      • Ian M says:

        It’s odd the way the UK is apparently so badly hit compared to some other countries. 10 months of lockdowns and restrictions and the UK is one of the worst hit in the world. Meanwhile a country like Belarus, has had no lockdowns and no social distancing and life continues as pretty much normal. Hospitals are busy but not full and people get on with normal life. One of the only places on the planet.

        Some interesting stats..

        The NHS budget for 2020, with the extra funding due to Covid, was around £160 billion (219 Billion USD).

        The GDP of the entire Belarus economy for 2020… 51 Billion USD.

        • John says:

          What does Belarus’ GDP have to do with the NHS budget?

          Belarus has 4 times the hospital capacity of the UK, adjusted for population, though less well funded. Belarus doesn’t put old people in care homes. Belarus tends to report deaths as being caused by the underlying condition where there is one, while the UK counts deaths from any cause where the deceased tested positive in the past month.

          What is odd is that the economic hit to the UK of furlough and business closures is more than triple the usual NHS budget. We are spending far more money to save one life from covid (which for the most part are economically inactive people) than we spend on saving one life from anything else.

          Covid is an NHS crisis rather than a health crisis. Suppose the infectivity and mortality was the same, but if you were going to die you died in 1-2 days or recovered. Then the NHS would not be overwhelmed. If we had just doubled the NHS budget and had lighter but consistent restrictions all year would we have been in a better place now?

          • Ian M says:

            What does Belarus’ GDP have to do with the NHS budget? It highlights the difference in wealth between the 2 countires.

            It seems the NHS is not fit for purpose when something like this comes along, which results in it apparently needing protecting which causes untold harm to people’s lives. Because let’s be clear, the harm done to the majority of people’s lives in the last 10 months in the UK has been caused by the restrictions in place (to protect the NHS). That’s not to say that a lot of people haven’t suffered harm as a direct result of Covid, of course they have. But they are vastly out numbered by those who have suffered not by the virus but by the restrictions.

            Considering the vast size of the NHS budget, it seems crazy how low the bed capacity rate is per 100,000 people. They spent hundreds of millions of pounds increasing the bed capacity with the Nightingale hospitals, only to then dismantle them..

            If a country like Belarus can get it so right, how has a country with the vast resources of the UK got it so hopelessly wrong?

          • Brian says:

            Careful, Ian M and John – such sensible comments will get you banned….Good to see that there are some people who can think for themselves rather than blindly following what the government and media want us to think, though.

          • Nick says:

            Because ‘lockdown’ in the UK is not real ‘lockdown’. In France there’s now a 6pm limit on when you can be outside… and in Greece before Christmas you had to ask permission from the authorities to go outside at all. Spain locked children inside last year. Many countries closed their borders well before we did. According to Bozo, we’re too ‘freedom loving’ to do lockdown properly… I’m saying this without expressing any judgement on whether I think it was right or wrong, but you can easily see why we’ve had it so much worse than a lot of other countries, we’ve taken it less seriously all along.

          • Rob says:

            Realistically Nick, what else is a good middle class bloke like myself meant to do on a Saturday morning if he can’t go down to the local farmers market?

          • kitten says:

            France seens to have given everyone a 6pm curfew abdvto have made the decision to keep bars, restaurants, skiing resorts closed, all in ordee to keep children at school. They’ve stated children’s education must continue and it’s clear keeping schools open is spreading the infection but the levels are still within control currently having stayed reasonably constant for over two months now.

            In large geographical areas outside the cold Eastern parts and major cities 6pm curfew was not really needed but it looks like they decided to bust everyone down from 8pm curfew to match those places that had it (and needed it).

            France is now vaccinating the elderly althougg they have a large number of ‘ conscientious objectors’ to vaccines who are still refusing it including some elderly. With France’s Health Ministry dirty history, eg the blood scandal, you can:t blame them.

            So France seems to have decided in favour of its children and their education and tolerating spread from that source. At least they have a policy and their population seems to mostly obey.

        • endfire says:

          Comparing UK with Belarus is not really fair. Belarus has minimal demographic mobility… it hardly needs to close borders because it’s not a travel destination or a global hub like the UK is, and its economy and demography is much more closed. Population density is a fraction of ours, and much more rural. So, it’s not a matter of “what has Belarus done better than us”, because they have intrinsic better protection against a pandemic like this one.

          UK should be compared with Germany in this regard, similar economies and population density. We have distinct advantage by being an island, that would have allowed us to implement much more effective border control, but unlike other island countries like Japan we are demographically very interconnected with, and economically dependent of, many nearby countries… so for all practical purposes being an island makes little difference in this case.

          • Ian M says:

            Regarding population density, Belarus is a fairly large country for it’s population, but the vast majority of the population live in a small handful of cities. In the UK, only London has a greater population density than the Belarus capital Minsk.

            Birmingham: 4,200
            Liverpool: 3,889
            Manchester: 4,716
            London: 5,701

            Minsk: 4,953

          • Mike says:

            I recall the far-right Toby Young and James Delingpole, both Spectator XRW extremists using Belarus as an example for how to tackle Covid-19. In my mind, this argument is totally discredited.

          • Ian M says:

            Toby Young far-right? Strange.

            I’ve been living in Minsk since May.

            Why do you believe this argument is totally discredited?

      • Rob says:

        Serious question Jonathan. If scientists had announced at Christmas that a vaccine was looking impossible for at least 10 years, what would you as PM have decided to do?

  • Urty says:

    Ian M: You just need to take a look at the idiots in power to understand why it’s all gone so wrong…

  • Track says:

    Not sure what sense does it make, given free travel between Portugal and other EU (Spain, France, Italy, Germany…)

    If new stem of virus is increasingly contagious, it will reach places globally.

    The concept of ‘travel corridor’ is more applicable between AU and NZ or Singapore and Hong Kong. It is more of a bubble zone.

    Given the situation in the UK, EU and the US — there could be no ‘travel corridor’ or ‘bubble zone’. It does not make sense as the virus is widespread in all these lands.

  • endfire says:

    Quite frankly, these measures are completely worthless, and I’m surprised (well, not really) that the government and experts are still playing that game. First, by the time the “new strain” has been identified in a particular spot, it will have been propagated well beyond that place, as we’ve seen several times already. Secondly, closing flights to an entire continent, but still allowing residents to come back, and allowing *everybody* from that continent to come back indirectly through any other country, is just a PR exercise and an inconvenience.

    The only way closing borders works (as demonstrated by many countries in Asia-Pac, with minimal levels of infection right now, see Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, NZ, etc), is to have a very strict closure: mandatory proper quarantine for absolutely all inbound from any destination, in supervised government facilities, and close testing&tracking of any exceptions that may have to be made. And of course, do that when the local infection rate is low, or at least lower than elsewhere. In Europe and America, we have not been willing or prepared or able to implement those measures, for whatever valid reasons (cultural, political, geographical, etc), so we have what we have.

    This is not a criticism, I’m not arguing that we should have been taking those measures (even though I personally think we should have, I understand the difficulties, and anyway we don’t have a time machine). Just that it’s too late for that strategy, and that half-arsed measures do nothing.

  • Gruntfuttock says:

    All Travel corridors withdrawn wef Monday 0400.

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