UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced over Twitter that arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela would all be barred from entry to the UK. He noted that Portugal is also included ‘given its strong travel links with Brazil’.
While scientists reason that there is no evidence that the Brazilian variant of Covid is any more dangerous than other strains identified, UK authorities are keen to prevent any issues that may impede the success of their vaccine rollout efforts. “We're so close now and we want to make sure we do everything possible to give us the best chance of beating this virus, which is why it's so important that we do act quickly on these things,” Shapps said, commenting on the travel ban.
“We don't expect a large number of Brits to have jaunted off to South America and we're not expecting to see a big repatriation issue as a result,” Shapps added. “Certainly, people should have been very aware before travelling anywhere. Please don't travel at the moment. You should be staying at home, we're under a lockdown and that applies across the country.”
New strains in the UK, Brazil and South Africa cause for concern
Back in December, various countries suspended travel from the UK due to a new strain of coronavirus being reported in Britain. It has been reported that all of the new reported variants (from Brazil, the UK and from South Africa) are concerning as they are more contagious than earlier versions of the virus, and could therefore spread quickly through nations, placing additional strain on already-struggling healthcare systems.
In addition, while scientists remain confident that Covid vaccines currently developed will be effective against the new strains, they are not sure they will be as effective.