Following the initial evaluation of the traffic light system, the government has confirmed that Portugal will go from green to amber on the list of destinations “to preserve public health against variants of concern.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) stated that the green list will not be expanded, and that the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores will be upgraded to amber status at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, requiring travelers coming to the UK to quarantine for ten days.
Seven nations, including Egypt and Sri Lanka, will be moved from the amber to the red list, requiring visitors to stay in a hotel quarantine.
The administration said in a statement that the categorization of Portugal was necessary, “increased concern in the spread of variants of coronavirus, including a mutation of the Delta variant [previously known as the Indian variant] and the risk that is posed of bringing these back to the UK if people are not required to quarantine”.
It further said: “The situation in Portugal has required swift action to protect the gains made with the vaccine roll-out – there has been an almost doubling in the Covid-19 test positivity rate in Portugal since the first review for traffic light allocations, far exceeding the ONS estimated national positivity rate in the UK.
“More significantly . . . 68 cases of the Delta Variant of Concern have been identified in Portugal, including cases of the Delta variant with an additional, potentially detrimental, mutation.
“Public Health England are investigating this variant and mutation to better understand whether it could be more transmissible and less effectively tackled by vaccines, potentially putting our progress with the roadmap at risk.”
It declares: “All classification changes have been decided by ministers, informed by the latest data and analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and wider public health factors.”
Grant Shapps, the Transport secretary said: “The public has always known travel will be different this year and we must continue to take a cautious approach to reopening international travel in a way that protects public health and the vaccine roll-out.
“While we are making great progress in the UK with the vaccine roll-out, we continue to say that the public should not travel to destinations outside the green list.”
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago are among the countries added to the red list.
“Do not travel to amber categorized places… due to the prevalence of concern variations and general rates of coronavirus being higher in amber destinations, meaning the risk to public health is also higher,” the government advised.
It stated that 100% health checks at the border will be maintained, and warned that airport line wait times “may be longer than usual.”
“Increases in case rates in the UK serve as a reminder that this pandemic is not over yet and we need to take a cautious approach,” said Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency.
In a partial modification, the government said that beginning 8th June, direct flights from nations on the “red list” that were previously subject to flight prohibitions will be authorized to England as part of a limited trial. These planes will only land at Heathrow and Birmingham’s dedicated terminals.
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