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UK bans arrivals from 16 countries due to Brazil variant

Arrivals into the UK from 16 countries have been banned as a result of a new variant of the coronavirus in Brazil.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Twitter that international arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venzuela will be barred from entering the UK from 4am on Friday, January 15.

Arrivals from Portugal will also be banned due to the European country’s “strong travel links with Brazil”, Shapps added.

In a separate series of tweets, Shapps confirmed Chile, the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores, as well as Aruba, Qatar, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, will be removed from the government’s travel corridor list from 4am tomorrow.

Hauliers from Portugal are exempt from the bans “to allow for the transportation of essential goods”.

The measures do not apply to British and Irish nationals and people with residence rights in the UK, though they must self-isolate for 10 days if returning from these destinations.

Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin American Travel Association, said: “Lata is aware of reports of a new Covid-19 variant that has manifested in specific areas of Brazil resulting in the UK government’s 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 government’s 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.

“There is no doubt that the region’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the economic fallout which has meant that travel to the region, for the most part, has ground to a halt. This development will further have a knock-on effect in terms of consumer confidence.”

Callaghan said: “That said, at Lata, it is encouraging for us to see the hard work that is ongoing across the region to ensure a safe tourism recovery.

“Our destination partners are working hard to implement their own health and hygiene protocols while many of our private sector members have received the WTTC’s Safe Travel Stamp for the measures they have taken to ensure visitor safety. Likewise, the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine has already commenced in a number of Latin American countries.

“Lata continues to support its members and is working behind the scenes on its Ready to Restart campaign. Our priority is to support our members and stimulate tourism to Latin America in a safe way.”

The developments follow Spain’s decision to extend the ban on British arrivals until 6pm on February 2. The ban first came into force on December 22 when a new variant was identified in the UK.

The Spanish government said the decision to extend the ban came because of “some uncertainties over the reach of the new strain”.

It added: “The epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom has progressively worsened.”

The ban excludes Spanish or Andorran residents returning from the UK.

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