All travel corridors to the UK will be closed from Monday, the Prime Minister has announced, ending the quarantine exemption for arrivals from selected nations.
The announcement comes after it was confirmed that a new variant of Covid-19 which emerged in Brazil had been discovered in the UK.
The new policy, which comes into effect from 4am on Monday, means that arrivals from every destination will need to self-isolate for 10 days, or receive a negative result from a coronavirus test taken at least five days after they enter the UK.
It had already been announced that travellers arriving in England and Scotland from Monday will need to have a negative test taken up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure.
Boris Johnson told the Downing Street press conference: “It’s precisely because we have the hope of that vaccine and the risk of new strains coming from overseas that we must take additional steps now to stop those strains from entering the country.
“Yesterday we announced that we’re banning flights from South America and Portugal and to protect us against the risk from as-yet-unidentified strains we will also temporarily close all travel corridors from 0400 on Monday.
“Following conversations with the devolved administrations we will act together so this applies across the whole of the UK.”
Why only now?
Asked why he was only introducing the end of travel corridors now, the PM said: "What we're doing now is taking steps that you'd expect, to protect against the new variants.
"We have a situation now where we have a very high rate of infection in the UK combined with a vaccination programme," he added.
"At this crucial stage, what we can't have is new variants, with unknown qualities, coming in from abroad, and that's why we've set up the system to stop arrivals from places where there are new areas of concern."
Vaccination rollout latest
Following the latest data that 3.2 million people in the UK had received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, the PM said almost 45% of over 80s had been vaccinated, and almost 40% of care home residents.
“We are steadily protecting those most at risk,” he said.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to areas which had vaccinated high numbers of over 80s and care home residents.
Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said that the number of cases is still "extremely high".
"We are still at the place where just shy of one in 50 has Covid," he said.
But Prof Whitty added that there is some "levelling off" in the cases "thanks to enormous efforts by so many people" and because "virtually everyone" is adhering to the guidance.
"We were not sure this was going to be possible with the new variant," he added.
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