Brazil & other South American countries banned
There seems to be a never-ending stream of new variants of COVID emerging at the moment as if the current situation is not bad enough. The latest one, the Brazilian strain is causing concern and has just resulted in a number of countries being banned. Arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, And Venezuela – from tomorrow, 15 January at 4am. This does not apply to British and Irish Nationals and third-country nationals with residence rights – but passengers returning from these destinations must self-isolate for ten days along with their households.
Travel from Portugal to the UK will also be suspended given its strong travel links with Brazil.
British Airways no longer serving alcohol in UK lounges temporarily
Today British Airways have stopped serving alcohol in their UK lounges. This apparently is due to a change in the lockdown rules. I’m not a lawyer but the change in alcohol takeaway could be what they are referring to. The rules related to serving food and drink have an exception for “that part of the airport, maritime port or terminal area is accessible between the restricted
hours to passengers, crew or other authorised persons but not to members of the general public.” However, later on, it refers to the sale of alcohol only being allowed via delivery, so it’s hard to know which part BA are referring to (like so many government regulations!).
This will apply to all airside venues, although presumably buying Duty-Free is not prohibited since it is more akin to a supermarket or off-license. I would expect BA to restart serving alcohol once lockdown ends. At Heathrow, the Galleries First and Club South lounges are operating.
UK testing for arrivals delayed
The ongoing shambles that is testing for arrivals continues. After giving passengers less than 72 hours notice to get tests done up to 72 hours before departure, they have obviously suddenly realised that most people won’t be able to achieve this, leaving them stranded abroad. They also failed to specify the exact test requirement until less than 48 hours before. Given that most countries have been doing this for the last 6 months or more, you’d think they may have been better prepared. So, as a result of the mess they have created, Grant Shapps has announced that they have to delay testing for arrivals until 4am on Monday. Hopefully, this gives people enough notice with a weekend coming up. I feel sorry for those that paid for tests that are no longer needed.
The guidance on tests is:
The test must:
- meet performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml
- this could include tests such as:
- a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
- an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device (these are simple rapid tests)
Poland quarantine exception for vaccinations
Poland has joined Cyprus and announced that it will apply an exemption for vaccinated passengers. Cyprus previously said that from March they would not require negative tests or quarantine those that have been vaccinated.
Poland has stated that the mandatory 10-day self-isolation period for all people arriving in Poland by public transport from 28 December to 17 January will not apply to those vaccinated against Covid-19. You will have to produce a certificate of vaccination. How easy it is to get one I don’t know, but I would imagine that a GP could do this? How we will prove we have been vaccinated and even tested should have an agreed standard by now, but despite efforts by IATA, we are not there yet.