UK to downgrade SL to Red from Amber in travel warning

Saturday, 5 June 2021 00:52 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • In first 4 months of this year, there were 732 tourists from UK to Sri Lanka, of whom 334 arrived in April

The United Kingdom will on Tuesday downgrade Sri Lanka to Red from Amber, warning its nationals to avoid travelling unless for exceptional reasons. 

Sri Lanka is among seven countries travel into which would require UK citizens to undergo 10-day costly quarantine in a hotel on return. The other six countries are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago.

In April, there had been 334 tourists from UK with the country being fifth-biggest source market amidst the COVID pandemic. In the first four months of 2021, arrivals from UK amounted to 732 and ranked 7th. Total arrivals in January to April was 13,797.

Last year, there were 55,455 tourists from UK in the first four months.

UK has also removed Portugal from the so-called “green list”, allowing quarantine-free travel between the two countries. The UK Government’s move has been slammed by Lisbon and Britain's tourism sector, according to Reuters.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland announced the same rule would also apply to their travellers.

The move could prove highly disruptive to thousands of British holidaymakers, after Portugal was the only European nation placed on the green list when it was first unveiled last month.

The Portuguese Foreign Ministry reacted angrily, tweeting: “We take note of the British decision to remove Portugal from the travel 'green list', the logic of which we cannot understand.”

A popular summer destination for Britons, from Tuesday at 4 a.m. (0300 GMT) Portugal will be on the amber list, which requires travellers to quarantine at home for 10 days on their return and take several COVID-19 tests.

It joins other European Union countries on the list, with no nations added to the green section.

The British Government advises against travel to amber-listed countries unless for a limited number of exceptional reasons, which does not include holidays.

Shapps said he ordered the change to Portugal's status because its infection rate had nearly doubled since the last review in mid-May, when Britain lifted a ban on non-essential international travel.

The Portuguese Foreign Ministry tweeted that the country is implementing a “prudent and gradual deconfinement plan”, however.

Shapps also cited instances of a mutation of the Delta variant, first identified in India and fast becoming the dominant strain in Britain – where cases are on the rise again after weeks of decline.

“We just don't know the potential for that to be (a) vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don't want to take the risk as we come up to 21 June,” Shapps said.

Britain is set to ease the last of its lockdown measures on that date.

The Government is facing calls to delay lifting the remaining measures – which include social distancing, wearing face masks and a work from home recommendation – as infections rise once again.

But ministers are putting their faith in the country's successful vaccine drive.

Over half of British adults have now had both doses of the authorised two-shot COVID-19 inoculations, while more than three-quarters have received at least a single dose.

Thursday's updates to the travel list, which will be reviewed in three weeks, were heavily criticised by airlines, airports and tour operators.

EasyJet Chief Executive Johan Lundgren called Portugal's designation a “shock decision” that “simply isn't justified by the science”, while Virgin Atlantic boss Shai Weiss branded the Government's approach “overly cautious”.

“We are yet to see clear and transparent guidance on the methodology and data the Government is basing these decisions on,” Weiss added.

The PC Agency travel consultancy Chief Executive Paul Charles called the moves a “terrible decision”. “They are basically putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs across aviation and the travel sector, and not showing any signs of helping the sector to recover.”

EasyJet and IAG, the owner of British Airways, were among sector leaders that saw their share prices fall significantly as a result of the new guidance on Portugal. 


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