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Yesterday, the latest changes to the so-called ‘red list’ for travel to the UK were announced:
“Ethiopia, Oman, Somalia and Qatar have been added to England’s red list to protect the country against new variants of coronavirus (COVID-19), at a critical time for the vaccine programme.
With over 24 million vaccinations delivered in the UK so far, the move will help to reduce the risk of new variants – such as those first identified in South Africa and Brazil – entering England.
From 4am on Friday 19 March 2021, visitors who have departed from or transited through these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. Only British and Irish citizens, or those with residence rights (including long-term visa holders), will be allowed to enter and must stay in a government-approved facility for 10 days.
During their stay, they will be required to take a coronavirus test on day 2 and day 8.
A ban on commercial and private planes travelling from Oman, Ethiopia and Qatar will also come into force on Friday to reduce the risk of importing variants of concern. This excludes cargo and freight without passengers.
Given that Qatar Airways has been one of the few airlines that has provided global connections throughout most of the pandemic, this is a potentially challenging restriction for those people who do still need to fly for essential purposes.
On a more optimistic note,
“Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) and Mauritius will be removed from England’s red list. The flight and maritime ban from Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) will also be removed, following evidence that shows the risk of importing a variant of concern from these destinations has reduced. Portugal has put steps in place to mitigate the risk from its links with countries where variants have become a concern, and now has genomic surveillance in place.
With a bit of luck (and the hard work of those directly involved!), the vaccination programme will continue at a decent rate across the UK (and the world), and internationally accepted vaccine passports will be available sooner rather than later. In the meantime, international travel will remain potentially challenging.