Quarantine-free entry for arrivals from low-risk countries has just been scrapped to keep out new variants of Covid-19.
Thanks to the suspension of the United Kingdom’s “travel corridors,” residents of 16 Asian jurisdictions — including Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam — will no longer enjoy quarantine-free access to the country as of today (January 18).
Anyone who enters England must now carry proof of a negative result for coronavirus from a nucleic acid or antigen test taken within three days of departure; those who fail to present a medical certificate may not be able to board their flights and could be fined £500 (US$679) upon arrival. All incoming travelers are also required to self-isolate for 10 days.
In a TV interview with the BBC, U.K. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said the cancellation of travel corridors was to ensure that Britain’s recently rolled out vaccine program was not “put in peril” by the new strains of Covid-19 that have emerged in Brazil, South Africa, and other countries. Raab pledged on Sunday that every adult in the country would be offered a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by September, and said he was hopeful that some of Britain’s current lockdown restrictions could be gradually lifted this spring.
In an effort to keep the more virulent South African coronavirus variant at bay, non-U.K. residents who have traveled to any of a dozen African countries within the last 10 days have not been permitted to enter since January 9. This mirrors the entry bans imposed on the U.K. itself by other jurisdictions around the world. For example, Singapore is barring short-term visitors and long-term pass holders with travel history to Britain within the previous 14 days, while Hong Kong has gone even further, banning all passenger flights from the U.K. and stopping even its own citizens from returning to the city.