Coronavirus: Britain ramps up flight ban as Portugal suspends all UK travel

·2 min read
Flight crew wearing face masks because of the Covid-19 pandemic arrive at Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport in west London, on January 18, 2021. - All arrivals to the UK will have to quarantine and show negative tests for Covid-19 from today at 0400 GMT, after the government scrapped "travel corridors" from countries with lower caseloads following the emergence of new strains. (Photo by BEN STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain is banning all arrivals from Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo from Friday, transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted. Photo: Ben Stansall / AFP

The UK has added more countries to its flight ban list in a bid to control the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.

Britain is banning all arrivals from Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo from Friday, transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted.

“All passengers from these countries except British and Irish Nationals and third country nationals with resident rights will be denied entry,” he said.

It came as Portugal’s prime minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday that all flights to and from the UK would be suspended from Saturday as the country also tackles rising cases of the more transmissible strain.

He told a news conference that only repatriation flights would be allowed between both countries to reduce the “risk of contagion.”

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Many countries have placed curbs on travel from the UK in Europe and beyond. Countries around the world that have banned UK travel include Turkey, India, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Argentina, Jamaica, Morocco, Chile, and Colombia.

Under new measures, everyone entering England from anywhere outside the country, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man will need to self-isolate for 10 days.

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In addition to this, proof of a negative coronavirus test is required to travel to England. This may be taken up to three days before your journey begins.

The new, fast-spreading variant of the COVID-19 virus prompted the UK government to impose a national lockdown at the start of this year.

However, the chances of lockdowns persisting into the summer now appear to be growing, with a change in tone in government statements in recent days.

READ MORE: Global air passenger traffic falls by 60% in 2020

A string of comments by ministers in the past 24 hours have dashed hopes Britain could bring down coronavirus infection rates and roll out vaccines fast enough to ease restrictions from March.

But prime minister Boris Johnson declined to rule out the nationwide lockdown lasting into the summer on Thursday.

He said it was “too early to say” when curbs would be eased, warning over the contagiousness of the new coronavirus variant.

Home secretary Priti Patel added at a Downing Street press conference that it was “far too early” to speculate, when asked if people could book foreign holidays this summer. She reiterated the need to curb current non-essential travel.

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