The British government on Thursday banned arrivals from all South American countries plus Panama, and also Portugal “given its close travel ties with Brazil,” due to the new strain of the coronavirus found in the Brazilian Amazon.
Arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela will be prohibited as of Friday “at 04:00 (local and GMT) as a result of the evidence of a new variant in Brazil “, announced the Minister of Transport, Grant Shapps, on Twitter.
“Travel from Portugal to the United Kingdom will also be suspended given its close travel ties with Brazil,” he said, although “truckers traveling from Portugal (only) will be exempt, to allow the transport of essential goods.”
The conservative government of Boris Johnson was under pressure to restrict travel from the southern American continent after the discovery of a new variant of the virus in Brazil.
“By delaying measures to cut travel between the UK and South America” the Conservatives are “risking the arrival of the new strain,” said Sarah Olney, head of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (center) on transport.
The country hardest hit by the pandemic in Europe, with almost 85,000 confirmed deaths from covid-19, the United Kingdom faces an unstoppable wave of infections since the discovery in December of a new strain in southern England, apparently much more contagious.
For its part, this other mutation originated in the Brazilian Amazon, and which was detected in Japan on Sunday, worries the international community about the possibility that it modifies the immune response in the middle of the vaccination campaign.
The UK had suspended direct travel from South Africa following the discovery of another variant of the virus in that country.
For the rest of the countries, the obligation to present a negative coronavirus test to enter England – a requirement that the country imposed after many of its neighbors -, initially scheduled to come into force this weekend, was postponed to next Monday. Scotland will start to apply it on Friday.