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Published on Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ban starts today for South America and Portugal arrivals

Arrivals into the UK from South America and Portugal have been banned by the UK Government in another bid to stem the spread of new strains of Covid.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the ban will apply to every country on the South American continent.

Portugal was also included given its strong links to South America.

The ban came into effect at 4am today.

Shapps said the move follows the emergence of a new Covid variant in Brazil.

The affected countries are Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname, Bolivia, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, French Guiana, Guyana, Cape Verde and Ecuador.

The new restrictions do not apply to British and Irish nationals or third country nationals with residence rights although all arriving passengers must self isolate, along with their families, for 10 days.

In line wih the move, Chile, Madeira and the Azores were removed from the travel corridor list. 

Separately, Aruba, Qatar, Bonaire, St Eustabius and Saba were also be removed from the corridor with all returning travellers required to self isolate from 4am on Saturday.

The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) acknowleged the reasons for the ban but said it was 'vital' it was reviewed 'on an ongoing basis subject to the epidemiological situation and the associated risks'.

"[It must not be] just forgotten about or kicked down the road endlessly," Chief Executive Danny Callaghan said. "There is no doubt that the region's tourism sector has been hit hard by the economic fallout which has meant that travel to the region, for the most part, has ground to a halt. This development will further have a knock on effect in terms of consumer confidence.

"At LATA, we are committed to lobbying for a test-and-release model to enable travel to restart in a safe way.  This model was implemented for lorry drivers stuck in Dover prior to the Christmas period. If it works for a lorry driver, it can work for tourists."

Callaghan stressed that LATA's destination partners are working hard to implement health and hygiene protocols, with many private sector members receiving the WTTC's Safe Travel Stamp for the measures they have taken to ensure visitor safety.

"Likewise, the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine has already commenced in a number of Latin American countries," he added. 

"LATA continues to support its members and is working behind the scenes on its Ready to Restart campaign.

"Our priority is to support our members and stimulate tourism to Latin America in a safe way."

By Steve Jones, Contributing editor (UK)

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