UK Travel Corridors Closed to Curb New CCP Virus Variants

UK Travel Corridors Closed to Curb New CCP Virus Variants
A passenger wearing a Union Flag mask waits to board one of the few flights departing at Gatwick Airport near London on Nov. 27, 2020. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Alexander Zhang

The UK has closed all its “travel corridors” with other countries in an attempt to stem the spread of new CCP virus variants into the country.

The measure, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, came into force at 4 a.m. local time on Monday.
The change means all passengers travelling to the UK must have a negative CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus test which has been taken in the 72 hours before departure. Anyone arriving without a test result faces a fine of up to £500 ($677).

Travellers must also transfer immediately into isolation upon arrival. The isolation period lasts for 10 days, unless the passenger tests negative after five days.

Johnson said the government had to take additional steps to protect the country against “the risk of as yet unidentified new strains” coming from overseas which might turn out to be resistant to vaccines.

“What we don’t want to see is all that hard work undone by the arrival of a new variant that is vaccine busting,” he said.

The UK had already banned travel from South America and Portugal from Friday morning to tackle a potential new CCP virus variant that emerged in Brazil, which has raised concerns among some scientists due to similarities to a variant in South Africa.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday that all travel corridors must now be closed because “it’s impossible for the Joint Biosecurity Centre to provide live scientific updates to predict which countries or regions will now originate new variants.”

The UK government coordinated with all devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland so that the change applies across the whole of the UK.

There were reports on Sunday that ministers were considering adopting rules already in place in some Asian countries, which require incoming travellers to quarantine in hotels under supervision.
Asked if the government would adopt the measure, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said all potential measures are under review but “they’ve got to be workable.”

“I think there is a challenge in its work abilities and deliverability, but we need to look at that very carefully based on the experience of other countries,” he told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday.

The government said on Saturday that it is setting up a financial support scheme to help airports through the new travel restrictions.

“I know the impact this will have on the aviation sector, so to help limit this I am announcing our scheme to provide support to airports and ground operations will open this month,” aviation minister Robert Courts wrote on Twitter.
Simon Veazey and Reuters contributed to this report.