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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)

  • Mike says:

    Excellent measures, but far too late. ALL inbound travel should be banned, UK nationals and residents returning home only plus sensible exemptions like critical persons. There’s so few people travelling HMG should be using airline data to find persons who have been travelling without a reason and fine them.

    Lockdown doesn’t go far enough and that’s why deaths are heading for ***2K*** a day.

    • bafan says:

      We are headed towards 2k because we are a country of overweight (67% of men and 60% of women) and old people, that can’t follow basic mask / social distancing guidance.

      [This comment has been moderated for language.]

      • Mike says:

        Fat shaming has no place on this travel site. Looking across a business lounge and premium cabins it would show that a great number of frequent travellers are persons of size and they deserve to read the comments without hate. Larger persons can be just as healthy and healthier than those society would deem to be “slim” and absolutely not ‘slobs’.

        • J says:

          Agreed the point was made offensively but unfortunately obesity is a risk factor – the stats for healthier (and slimmer) nations are a lot better (which should surprise no one)

        • Harry T says:

          Yeah, but covid doesn’t care about politically correct terminology – overweight people are at greater risk of serious disease and death. And the UK has a very large proportion of overweight and obese adults. Also, obesity is a disease and you are not healthy if you’re overweight.

          • Anna says:

            What about “metabolically healthy obese” Harry? This is a thing in America where it’s claimed that as long as your blood pressure, blood sugar and a few other things are normal, overweight people carry no greater health risks than slimmer people.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Perhaps. However what % of fat people meet all that criteria?

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        You don’t need to be fat, or a slob, to have a near-death experience from Covid. The dead ones can’ talk.

        This is a pal Nikki’s tale – she wants everyone to read it as her thank you to the NHS.

        • Mike says:

          A tear in my eye. The Envy of the World.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          We know you don’t have to old or fat.

          However, the risk profile says if you are of good health AND weight and under 50 you extremely unlikely to end up in hospital. It doesn’t mean you will not be extremely unlucky.

          Just like it extremely bad luck to be hit with a car or to die of heart failure at a young age or be on a plane that crashes etc etc

        • Unknown says:

          No you don’t need to be fat or a slob, and yes some overweight people can be healthy but the fact is that being overweight (and moreso being obese/morbidly obese) is a risk factor and does usually lead to many health complications.
          The fact that there are a few exceptions doesn’t change the general trend.

          And Colin… Your friend does seem a little on the rounder side… Does go against your point…

        • Alan says:

          You also sadly don’t even have to have COVID to be affected – so many other aspects of healthcare are having to be paused due to the onslaught of COVID cases – just look at the hospital in the North of England announcing a temporary suspension to kidney transplant ops today!

          • C says:

            And how many ailments are going undiagnosed or untreated in early stages, or with treatment being pushed out until it is critical (even more so than usual for the NHS), due to the diversion of resources to COVID, or just general COVID-driven restrictions on access? How many of us are deciding that minor ache/pain/whatever is likely nothing, rather than getting it checked out by a GP? And if one does want it checked out, one can only get a telephone call from a harried GP. Even after COVID, health and well-being will be adversely impacted for years.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      While I understand your reasoning if you looked at the numbers of incoming people and the positivity rate other countries that test on arrival you’d stop perhaps 500 cases a day. There would still be 60000-45000 cases in the community.

      Patient 0 from UK’s new strain was extremely likely to have been from Kent too.

    • Alex says:

      What nonsense. There are going to be plenty new strains of the virus over coming years. Should we shut ourselves away forever rather than learning to live with it?

    • Sharka says:

      2k a day is not that anomalous. Average deaths in England are abouy 1,600 per day and that is seasonal.

      p 51 in this PHE publication is interesting:

      • DaveL says:

        And you point is exactly…? p51 shows 2014/15 as the worst year for flu deaths in recent years with a grand total of 28,330 deaths. At current rates there’ll be more covid deaths in two weeks with the country shut down.

        1,600 per day may be the average but these are additional deaths on top of that.

        • Grant says:

          No, they’re not additional deaths on top of that. They are all deaths, for any reason, within 28 days of a positive test. They could, for example, include someone run over and killed by a bus who happened to test positive for COVID nearly a month earlier.

          • DaveL says:

            Whilst I take your point, at current rates <3% of the population have tested positive for covid in the past 28 days (say 1.75 million – that’s a rolling figure). So taking the figure of 2K expected deaths per day, the covid numbers could be distorted by 3%, i.e. 60 people per day, who would sadly have died from other causes anyway. So whilst you’re right, the impact is minimal, and the vast majority of those 1,600 deaths (using the example, 97%) are additional.

        • Brian says:

          But that’s not 28,330 deaths within 28 days of a positive flu test is it? Imagine how high flu deaths would be if the did. The COVID-19 figures are unreliable and exaggerated because they still, after about a year, use this way of counting. But that serves the government narrative and the public’s hysteria, so that’s alright.

          • jek says:

            Brian and Grant: While the current way of counting will include deaths not caused by COVID, they also don’t include the COVID deaths were no test was done, for example quick deaths at home or in care homes. Autopsies suggest 5 digit numbers of COVID deaths that are not included in such numbers.

  • Rui N. says:

    Are you sure they banned flights, not people coming from those destinations?

    • Sam G says:

      All flights + all non-UK residents even indirectly I believe

    • Rob says:

      Wording is confusing I agree. The reports have changed in the last hour so I will amend the article.

    • kitten says:

      Same difference really.
      If you ban the people (or make it bureaucratically hard except for the richest to travel) then flights will stop pretty much immediately now as they will no longer be economic.

      Hard on the airlines – although it could be said this is a business risk that they carried “business interruption” risk for (that the insurance companies have fought hard to try not to pay in the case of bars and restaurants, for example).

  • marcw says:

    Reading the Guardian it reads as only travellers from those regions are banned (except British nationals), not flights.

    • Sam G says:

      Based on the similar ban from SA direct flights will also be cancelled. Which seems kinda silly to me, surely it’d be better to have people coming in on a few direct flights and know about them rather than trying to pick them out off of indirect flights

    • Nick says:

      It doesn’t matter if flights are banned or not… if air crew aren’t exempt (and the rules are very clear on this), there will be no one to fly them in any case. BA (or other) pilots are not going to work flights to or from Brazil if it means both they and their families have to isolate (strictly! They do check these ones) for 10 days afterwards.

  • Doommonger says:

    Well done the govt taking this measure , but as with everything this administration does, far too late. They have to do this now as the prior procrastination has left them with little other choice. Hapless as Johnson is, he has surrounded himself with even poorer ministers, I personally can’t decide who is worse; Williamson or Patel.

    • Stagger Lee says:

      Neither of them should be in any position of power after they were given the boot from May’s cabinet.

    • mr_jetlag says:

      You misspelled Matt Hancock. Although Williamson far more incompetent the damage he does is less severe.

  • George K says:

    What sort of options would a guy have in order to return to LHR from Brazil, having had a return flight originally scheduled for earlier in the month but since then cancelled and rebooked by BA multiple times?

    Would a LATAM/Iberia reroute via MAD be a logical demand to make at BA? Or anything else?

  • babyg says:

    BA to FARO dropped until mid FEB

    • Phillip says:

      BA had dropped Faro from Mid Jan to Mid Feb back in November. This is not new.

      • babyg says:

        not true – BA dropped some flights, but not all of them…. i had booked in Jan for Jan …

        “Dear Customer, We hope you’re all set for your trip to Faro on 10 January 2021. Before heading off, please take a moment to go through your checklist.”

        Check flightradar etc.. BA were flying, now they are not (unitl feb 14th)

        • Phillip says:

          Apologies – I should have phrased that as “had been dropping”. They dropped all of Porto flights from mid Jan to mid Feb and more than half of FARO back in November.

  • Laura says:

    Surprised to see that Madeira and the Azores are still on the travel corridor list for saying the ban seems quite broad

  • Jaime says:

    So Portugal is on the list because of the links/connections to Brazil, but I Iberia is OK despite the links/connections to all other Spanish speaking countries in South/ Central America. You wonder what sort of people are making decisions

    • Michael C says:

      That’s because Portugal was free to transit for anyone, without any sort of test.
      Spain is closed to anyone who is not Spanish or a resident, including for transit.

    • abc says:

      The list seems to include Brazil plus countries with close connections to Brazil, which includes all South American countries and Portugal. Of course you could include additionally countries with close connections to those countries and so forth until you’ve banned everything, but there seems to be at least a certain logic behind the decision. (As far as that’s possible for these kinds of things anyway.)

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