Border restrictions are tightening around the world as the omicron variant takes hold
Stricter border controls and travel restrictions are being introduced across the globe in response to the latest variant of concern.
The UK has reintroduced day two PCR tests for all inbound travellers, including those who are fully vaccinated, along with a mandatory quarantine while arrivals await their results.
In addition to the six southern African countries unexpectedly added to the UK’s lista Vermelha Semana Anterior – África do Sul, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia – a further four nations have been given red status.
As of 4am on Sunday, UK and Irish residents returning to England from Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola must also pay to isolate in an approved quarantine hotel for 10 dias.
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Bom Dia, e bem vindo a O Independente’s travel liveblog. We’ll be posting all the latest travel updates throughout the day.
What are the new rules for UK arrivals?
PCR tests and self-isolation are back for travellers arriving in the UK. Weeks after international travel rules were eased to allow cheaper and faster lateral flow (antigen) testes, the government is tightening restrictions once again in response to the spread of the omicron variant of coronavirus.
Ao mesmo tempo, the previously dormant red list has been expanded and now applies to arrivals from 10 southern African nations.
Here are the key questions and answers to what the new rules mean for UK travellers:
New rules take effect at 4am on Tuesday30 November
British Airways suspends flights to Hong Kong
British Airways has suspended flights to Hong Kong after a crew member tested positive for Covid-19.
The move followed reports that members of the crew were forced to isolate for three weeks at a quarantine facility built from shipping containers.
The city has one of the strictest quarantine policies in the world, with those arriving from abroad having to spend up to 21 days in government-mandated hotels.
The airline said a member of staff tested positive on arrival in the special administrative region after first testing negative before departure.
Spain bans non-vaccinated Britons
Only fully-vaccinated British tourists will be admitted to Spain from Wednesday as countries around the world tighten border restrictions amid concern at the new Omicron coronavirus variant.
Until now, Britons could enter Spain by showing a negative PCR test result taken up to 72 hours before arriving, but from 1 December they will also need proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.
The variant, which has also been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Itália, Germany and Britain, has sparked global concern and a wave of travel curbs, although epidemiologists say such restrictions may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating globally.
“The appearance of new variants … obliges an increase in restrictions,” with regard to people from the UK and Northern Ireland, said a Spanish government bulletin.
A spokeswoman for Spain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism said the move would not affect the estimated 300,000 Brits with residency in Spain.
Japan closes borders to all foreign visitors in response to new Covid variant
Japan will close its borders to all foreigners, including business travellers and foreign students, from Tuesday in response to the spread of the omicron Covid variant, prime minister Fumio Kishida has said.
The announcement sees Japan become the second country after Israel to close its borders amid fears that Omicron may be more transmissible than previous variants of the coronavirus.
“We are taking measures with a strong sense of urgency,” Mr Kishida said, adding that his government was tightening border controls due to the “rapid spread” of omicron around the world.
Mr Kishida said Japan will go ahead with providing booster jabs to its vulnerable population, three quarters of which is already fully vaccinated.
Japan becomes second country after Israel to close borders over spread of new ‘variant of concern’
Four more African countries added to UK red list
The UK has added four more African countries to its red list, following the six added last Thursday.
Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia were all transferred to the high-risk list effective from 4am on Sunday 28 novembro, meaning arrivals into the UK from those countries must pay to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 dias.
The changes were announced in a statement from the Department of Health, which said that two cases of the omicron coronavirus variant had been detected in the UK in Chelmsford and Nottingham.
Anyone who has returned from the four new red list countries within the past four days – even if they arrived before the Sunday deadline – must self-isolate at home and get a PCR test, said the Department.
Read the full story:
Additions made after omicron variant cases detected in the UK
Switzerland imposes 10-day quarantine on UK travellers
Switzerland has announced it will impose a 10-day quarantine on all arrivals from the UK in response to fears over the omicron coronavirus variant.
The country’s Federal Office of Public Health announced on Saturday that arrivals from the Czech Republic, Os Países Baixos, Egypt and Malawi, as well as Britain, would need to present a negative Covid test and self-isolate on arrival.
“UPDATE – The UK has been added to Switzerland’s risk country list,” tweeted the Swiss embassy.
“When boarding a plane and entering Switzerland, all persons travelling from the UK must present a negative Covid-19 test and quarantine for 10 dias."
Travel restrictions tighten in response to variant of concern
Couple who escaped Covid quarantine hotel arrested by Dutch police
A couple were arrested and taken from a plane in the Netherlands after fleeing a quarantine hotel and attempting to leave the country.
O casal – a Spanish man aged 30 and a Portuguese woman, 28 – were arrested on a plane bound for Spain, said police.
Public health authority spokesperson Stefanie van Waardenburg said that one of the members of the couple had tested positive for Covid-19 and was in isolation while the other person was negative but in quarantine.
“The arrests took place in a plane that was about to take off. They were on a plane that was about to depart for Spain,” officials said.
Authorities said that the couple were arrested from a plane that was about to depart for Spain.
EasyJet passengers have until midnight tomorrow to cancel their holiday
EasyJet customers due to travel up to 17 December have until midnight on Tuesday (30 novembro) to cancel their holiday online in exchange for credit.
The holiday company introduced the policy in response to the UK government’s announcement that it is re-introducing measures such as PCR tests for all arrivals into the UK.
All easyJet holidays customers can make changes to their booking up to 28 days before departure; any customers with an easyJet holidays booking through a travel agent or third party should contact their agent to discuss their options.
Matt Callaghan, director of customer and operations at easyJet holidays, disse: “We know this news might have affected some of our customers with imminent travel plans so, as ever, we want to be on their side and give even more flexibility at this time.
“That’s why we’re allowing cancellation for easyJet holidays credit or a free amend for travel agent bookings for anyone due to travel between now and mid December, allowing them to rebook when the time is right for them.
“We’re contacting our customers and trade agents with details of how to do this. Customers can, claro, keep their holiday booking, this is just about giving further reassurance to anyone who wants to make a change to their plans.”
QUEBRA: Scottish and Welsh governments demand Boris Johnson increases number of self-isolation days for travellers
The Scottish and Welsh government have urged Downing Street to bring in “tougher” travel rules to tackle the spread of the omicron variant of Covid-19 across the UK.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she and Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford had written to Boris Johnson to demand a “tightening” of rules so arrivals in UK have to self-isolate for eight days.
The SNP leader and Welsh Labour leader have also requested that arrivals take a PCR test on day eight as well as day two.
Read the full story:
‘Sensible for travel rules to be tightened further’, says Nicola Sturgeon