Arrivals from Portugal will now need to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival
After just three weeks, Portugal has been removed from the quarantine exemption list, with those entering the UK now needing to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. The changes were announced on Thursday 10 September 2020 and came into effect at 4:00 am, Saturday 12 September.
However, the UK government has continued their efforts to move towards a more regionalised approach to categorising travel destination safety, with the islands of Madeira and the Azores remaining quarantine-exempt.
The UK government had come under increasing pressure throughout July and August to designate the country as safe and not requiring returning travelers to self-isolate, since at the time the rate of infection was much lower than the UK. However, on Wednesday 9 September 2020, Portugal reported its highest daily total since April, with 646 new cases. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has now advised against all but essential travel to the country in its updated travel advice.
How does the government choose where goes on the list?
The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) work with the chief medical officers of each UK nation to determine which countries should be on the list. Typically, the threshold at which a country is put on the list is when 20 in every 100,000 are infected over seven days. However, other factors are also taken into account, explaining why Scotland and Wales had both already removed Portugal from their own travel corridor lists the week before England did so.
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