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UK adds Portugal, Hungary to virus quarantine list

The British government said Thursday it was reinstating Portugal and adding Hungary to its coronavirus quarantine list, as it seeks to limit new Covid-19 cases from abroad.

Transport minister Grant Shapps said data showed it was necessary to target Hungary and mainland Portugal, but not the islands of the Azores and Madeira, “to keep everyone safe”.

French Polynesia and Reunion were also added to the quarantine list, while Sweden was taken off it for those arriving in England.

The new restrictions requiring all arrivals from the newly-designated countries to self-isolate for 14 days will come into force from 0300 GMT on Saturday.

“The government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus,” the Department of Transport said in a statement.

Analysis from Britain’s Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England “indicated a significant change in both the level and pace of confirmed cases of coronavirus” in all four countries added, it said.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) also updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to the targeted destinations.

Britain began introducing quarantine in June as one way to stop new infections of coronavirus, which has killed more than 41,500 people — the worst death toll from the pandemic in Europe.

The latest restrictions come as the domestic rates of Covid-19 transmission have surged over the last week.

Previous changes made with little notice and confusion over different policies in different UK nations — notably England and Scotland — have sparked anger in the travel industry and frustration among tourists.

People arriving in Scotland or Wales from Portugal have needed to self-isolate for 14 days since last Friday, following decisions taken by the devolved governments in Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Portugal was on the UK-wide quarantine list earlier in the summer but removed last month after new cases there fell.

It is a popular summer destination for British travellers, with 2.5 million visiting last year, according to UK government figures, many holidaying in the Algarve.