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Brit travel ban to more than 60 countries

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Written by: Emma Lunn
23/12/2020
Arrivals from the UK, dubbed ‘plague island’, have been barred by an ever-growing number of countries due to panic over the mutant strain of Covid-19.

Within Europe, Spain, Gibraltar, Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Bulgaria, and many more have halted flights arriving from the UK. Beyond Europe,

Canada, Kuwait, Mauritius, Hong Kong, Chile, Argentina and Japan, are among a growing list of destinations barring arrivals from the UK.

The travel ban throws the holiday plans of thousands of Brits into chaos, and makes it virtually impossible for residents of other countries currently in the UK to return home.

Thousands of people are not legally allowed to leave the UK anyway as Tier 4 restrictions prohibit most international travel. More areas are expected to move into Tier 4 in the coming days.

A statement on the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website said: “Following identification of a new variant of the virus, international travel from your area may be increasingly restricted because of domestic regulations. Different rules apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“For example, those in Tier 4 areas in England will not be permitted to travel abroad apart from limited exceptions, such as work purposes. Follow all the rules that apply to you.

“Other countries have closed borders, and may restrict movement or bring in new quarantine rules with little warning. Check our advice on things to consider, and be prepared to stay overseas longer than planned.

“Before you return to the UK you must provide your journey and contact details. Also check if you need to self-isolate.”

Call for airport testing regime

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) says travel bans are not the answer. Instead it is pushing for a comprehensive and quick turnaround testing regime to be put in place at airports across the UK to test all travellers before they depart. It said this would ensure only those infected with Covid-19 are isolated and are prevented from travelling.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president & CEO, said: “People should not be deterred from travelling because they simply can’t find or arrange to get tested at a local testing centre or lab. We need to make it much easier for travellers to get a test prior to their journey.

“Travellers pose no higher risk than other members of the community if they follow all the internationally recognised health safety protocols, including the mandatory wearing of masks and regular testing.

“While we understand the concern and need to curb the spread of Covid-19, the growing number of blunt travel bans are incredibly disruptive and economically damaging. We should not underestimate the terrible social impact of increasing isolation and its effect on mental health.”

The European Commission has also called for an end to the blanket bans and is encouraging member states to take coordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between the UK and the EU, while allowing EU and UK citizens to return to their homes.

Didier Reynders, European commissioner for justice, said: “While precautions are needed to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variant, with today’s recommendation, we therefore ensure that the restrictions are coordinated and provide for the necessary exemptions for citizens and residents returning home and other essential travellers.”

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