A shopper wearing a facemask as a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus walks past a store of the clothing and food retailer Marks and Spencer in central London on August 18, 2020 with social distancing advice displayed on the high street. (AFP/JUSTIN TALLIS )
Britain said on Thursday it will reimpose quarantine for travelers from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago, but ease restrictions on arrivals from Portugal, in its latest response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision, which will come into effect from 0300 GMT on Saturday, will require travelers from the trio of newly red-flagged countries to self-isolate for 14 days after cases in each rose markedly.
"Data shows we need to remove Croatia, Austria and Trinidad & Tobago from our list of #coronavirus Travel Corridors to keep infection rates DOWN," transport minister Grant Shapps said on Twitter.
"Data also shows we can now add Portugal to those countries INCLUDED in Travel Corridors," he added, noting "things can change quickly" and people should only travel if they are willing to potentially quarantine on their return.
The latest moves follow quarantine being imposed last week on France, the Netherlands and several other countries, as the government fears Europe is starting to see a second wave of virus infections.
Britain, which has been the hardest-hit European country by COVID-19, registering more than 41,000 deaths to date, has seen its number of confirmed cases creeping up in recent weeks.
Officials announced nearly 1,200 new cases on Thursday.
The UK had no quarantine measures in the early stages of the pandemic but in June imposed a blanket self-isolation requirement on all arrivals.
Weeks later it carved out "travel corridors" which exempted travelers from certain countries from quarantine.
However, the measures were reintroduced for arrivals from Spain in late July, catching airlines by surprise -- as well as thousands of Britons leaving for their holidays.
Last week's restrictions on arrivals from France, announced just 36 hours before they were implemented, sparked similar chaos, as thousands of British holidaymakers scurried to get home before they began.
The country's struggling tourism sector, including airlines and airport operators, has criticized the quarantine policy as overbearing and called for more targeted testing at ports of entry.
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