Grant Shapps Announces South America Travel Ban Following Concerns Over New Brazilian Covid Variant
Grant Shapps announced the travel ban which will come into force from tomorrow
Grant Shapps has announced a travel ban will apply to people arriving from more than a dozen South American countries following the discovery of a new coronavirus variant in Brazil.
The Transport Secretary said he had taken the "urgent decision" to ban arrivals into the UK from 15 South American countries as well as Portugal from 4am tomorrow amid concerns over another infectious coronavirus variant first recorded in Brazil.
Announcing the measures, Mr Shapps, said the ban would include major countries in the continent, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Venezuala following a meeting of the government's Covid-19 operations committee earlier today.
Mr Shapps said the "urgent decision" would see most arrivals banned, with British and Irish nationals and those with British residence rights asked to self-isolate for ten days.
"Travel from Portugal to the UK will also be suspended given its strong travel links with Brazil - acting as another way to reduce the risk of importing infections. However, there is an exemption for hauliers travelling from Portugal (only), to allow transport of essential goods," he said.
"This measure does not apply to British and Irish Nationals and third country nationals with residence rights - but passengers returning from these destinations must self-isolate for ten days along with their households."
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that he was "concerned" about the new Brazilian variant of the virus.
We aleady have tough measures...to protect this country from new infections coming in from abroad," he told MPs.
"We are taking steps to do that in respect of the Brazilian variant."
Officials are yet to confirm whether any cases resulting from the latest variant have been recorded in the UK, and there is no evidence the latest mutation will have any impact on the effectiveness of the current vaccines.
But Mr Johnson added it was "fair to say that there are lots of questions we still have".
Brazil has already stopped flights arriving from the UK following the discovery of a new UK variant in December.
From Friday, all international passengers arriving in the UK from other destinations will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test before they enter.