Timeline of UK’s response to overseas coronavirus variants

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·2-min read

Senior ministers meet on Tuesday to discuss the introduction of tougher travel measures in response to new coronavirus strains.

Here is a timeline of key dates relating to the UK’s response to international coronavirus variants:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the Government’s Covid-O committee on Tuesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the Government’s Covid-O committee on Tuesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

– December 21 2020

South Africa announces a new variant of the Covid-19 virus is driving an increase in confirmed cases and deaths in the country.

– December 23

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says two cases of the South Africa strain have been found in the UK.

– December 24

The UK bans direct flights from South Africa. Visitors arriving into England who have been in or transited through South Africa in the previous 10 days are no longer permitted entry.

– January 13 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says there are concerns about a new strain identified in Brazil.

– January 15

Travellers from South America and Portugal are banned from entering the UK in response to the Brazilian variant.

– January 17

The Sunday Times reports that ministers are considering requiring arrivals to stay at quarantine hotels.

– January 18

Travel corridors are scrapped, meaning nearly everyone entering the UK must go into quarantine for up to 10 days.

– January 24

A number of the Sunday papers report that the Cabinet is split on whether the quarantine hotel policy should apply to all arrivals or just those returning from coronavirus hotspots.

– January 26

Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the Government’s Covid-O committee, which is expected to agree a plan on stricter rules for travellers.