The UK government has suspended all travel corridors until at least February 15, ending quarantine exemptions for arrivals from certain “low-risk” destinations to avoid ten days of self-isolation on arrival.

The move, which went into effect Monday, Jan. 18, is intended “to protect us against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains” of COVID-19, according to government statements.

The new restrictions apply to all arrivals into the UK from outside the Common Travel Area, including British and Irish nationals, and means people will also have to self-isolate on arrival for 10 days, unless they have a negative test after five days through the Test and Release program.

However this option is not available for arrivals from certain destinations, including British and Irish nationals coming from several Central and South America countries, as well as Portugal and Cape Verde.

In addition, beginning last week, the government has instituted new COVID-19 testing requirements. All travelers to the UK must present proof of a negative test result before embarking on their trip.

“We are operating in a completely new environment in our fight against COVID-19, with several worrying new strains of the virus emerging across the globe,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Now more than ever, as we make strides vaccinating people up and down the country, we need to take advantage of all measures available to us – and these robust emergency precautions will help us protect the nation to ensure we continue to make progress,” Shapps said.

“Travel corridors were a lifeline for the industry last summer and the government were right to bring them in when they did. But things change and there’s no doubting this is a serious health emergency and ministers need to act to keep borders safe and the public protected,” said Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, in a statement.

“We therefore support this latest measure, on the assumption that we will work with government – when the time is right – to remove these restrictions when it is safe to do so and start to open up our sector again.”

gov.uk