No regular updates to the list of destinations from which travellers arriving in the UK are exempt from quarantine requirements will be made over the festive period.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the travel corridors list would not be amended before January 7 2021 unless “emergency removals” were required due to a spike in coronavirus cases.
Uruguay, Namibia and the US Virgin Islands were removed from the list on Thursday, in what was the last regular update for three weeks.
Latest data means we must remove URUGUAY, NAMIBIA and US VIRGIN ISLANDS from the #TravelCorridor list. From 4am Saturday 19th December, if you arrive into the UK from these destinations you will need to self-isolate.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) December 17, 2020
Passengers arriving in the UK from these countries from 4am on Saturday must self-isolate.
Mr Shapps said the decision to suspend weekly changes to the travel corridors list would provide “certainty to those travelling over Christmas”.
The travel industry has claimed for months that the threat of a destination being removed from the travel corridors list has put many people off booking holidays this year.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said in a statement: “The Government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action to contain the virus, including removing countries from the travel corridor list rapidly if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high.
“This remains the case over the festive period and we will continue to monitor the data on levels of imported infection and take urgent action if needed.”
Most people arriving in the UK from non-exempt destinations must enter a 10-day quarantine period.
But those returning to England can end their self-isolation period if they take a coronavirus test at least five days after they arrive and get a negative result.
The Test to Release programme got off to a chaotic start when it launched on Tuesday, with several of the initial 11 testing firms on a Government-approved list struggling to cope with demand.
The DfT said on Thursday that more than 20,000 tests have been sold and it insisted the system has sufficient capacity.