Belgium and Bahamas arrivals in UK must quarantine

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Woman in Bruges

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Reuters

People arriving into the UK from Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra will have to quarantine for 14 days.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes start at 04:00 BST on Saturday except in Wales, where they start midnight Thursday.

About Belgium
Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,689 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.5 million, making it the 22nd most densely populated country in the world and the 6th most densely populated country in Europe, with a density of 376 per square kilometre (970/sq mi). The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi, Liège, Bruges, Namur and Leuven.
Legally, Belgium is a sovereign state and a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organization is complex and is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds. It is divided into three highly autonomous regions: the Flemish Region in the north, Wallonia in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita.
Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 60 percent of the population, and the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons. The Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual (French and Dutch), although French is the dominant language. Belgium’s linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments.
Historically, Belgium is part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that also included parts of northern France and western Germany. Its modern name is derived from the Latin word Belgium, used in Julius Caesar’s “Gallic War”, to describe the region in the period around 55 BCE. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan center of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the “Battlefield of Europe”, a reputation strengthened by both world wars. The country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution, when it seceded from the Netherlands.
Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa. The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased; there is significant separatism particularly among the Flemish; controversial language laws exist such as the municipalities with language facilities; and the formation of a coalition government took 18 months following the June 2010 federal election, a world record. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders, which boomed after the war.Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and its capital, Brussels, hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Council, as well as one of two seats of the European Parliament (the other being Strasbourg). Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO, and a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has very high standards of living, quality of life, healthcare, education, and is categorized as “very high” in the Human Development Index. It also ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world.

Belgium and Bahamas arrivals in UK must quarantine

About Bahamas
The Bahamas ( (listen)), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Caribbean. It takes up 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago’s land area and is home to 88% of the archipelago’s population. The archipelagic state consists of fewer than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, and is located north of Cuba and Hispaniola Island (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, southeast of the US state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force describes The Bahamas’ territory as encompassing 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq mi) of ocean space.
The Bahamas were inhabited by the Lucayans, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taíno people, for many centuries. Columbus was the first European to see the islands, making his first landfall in the ‘New World’ in 1492. Later, the Spanish shipped the native Lucayans to slavery on Hispaniola, after which the Bahama islands were mostly deserted from 1513 until 1648, when English colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera.
The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy. After the American Revolutionary War, the Crown resettled thousands of American Loyalists to The Bahamas; they took their slaves with them and established plantations on land grants. African slaves and their descendants constituted the majority of the population from this period on. The slave trade was abolished by the British in 1807; slavery in The Bahamas was abolished in 1834. Subsequently, The Bahamas became a haven for freed African slaves. Africans liberated from illegal slave ships were resettled on the islands by the Royal Navy, while some North American slaves and Seminoles escaped to The Bahamas from Florida. Bahamians were even known to recognise the freedom of slaves carried by the ships of other nations which reached The Bahamas. Today Afro-Bahamians make up 90% of the population of 332,634.The country gained governmental independence in 1973 led by Sir Lynden O. Pindling, with Elizabeth II as its queen. In terms of gross domestic product per capita, The Bahamas is one of the richest countries in the Americas (following the United States and Canada), with an economy based on tourism and offshore finance.

The countries are the latest to have a change in rules, after quarantines were reimposed for Spain and Luxembourg.

But travellers from Brunei and Malaysia arriving in England and Wales will no longer need to self-isolate.

Belgium and Bahamas arrivals in UK must quarantine

The transport secretary has previously said he “cannot rule out” other countries being included on the list as the travel advice is kept under review.

People who do not self-isolate when required can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and those returning to Scotland could be fined £480, with fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.

  • What are the UK travel quarantine rules?
  • You finally got abroad, but was it worth it?

Up to 1.8 million British nationals visit Belgium every year, while 150,000 visit Andorra. The Bahamas, meanwhile, saw more than 36,000 visits from the UK in 2018.

According to figures on Thursday, Belgium has a rate of 49.2 new cases per 100,000 people, above the UK’s latest rate of 14.3. For comparison, Spain’s rate was 27.4 around the time it was removed from the UK’s travel corridor list.

Last week, Belgium introduced new restrictions which mean that people can only meet the same five people outside their household in a month.

Meanwhile, Belgium’s neighbour, France, is also seeing a surge in cases.

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Media captionCoronavirus: How to fly during a global pandemic

Mr Shapps tweeted: “Data shows we need to remove Andorra, Belgium and the Bahamas from our list of [coronavirus] travel corridors in order to keep infection rates DOWN.

“If you arrive in the UK after 0400 Saturday from these destinations, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days.”

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the governments of all four UK nations agreed to the changes “based on a shared understanding of the data”.

“Imposing quarantine requirements on those arriving from another country is not a decision made lightly – but suppressing the virus and protecting public health remains our priority,” he said.

by Helen Catt, political correspondent

These changes are not going to cause quite the same disruption as we saw when Spain was removed from the exemptions list.

Far fewer Brits head to these destinations; just a few tens of thousands go to the Bahamas each year and it currently has a nationwide lockdown in force.

But the change to Belgium’s status will have a knock-on effect for people planning to head to other European destinations too.

Anyone travelling through Belgium will now find they have to quarantine when they get back.

It’s also likely to make things a bit nervy for people planning a trip to other, more popular, holiday destinations where Covid rates have been on the rise.

All in all, it looks like the summer getaway is set to stay pretty unpredictable for a while yet.

The UK introduced the compulsory 14-day quarantine for arrivals from overseas in early June.

But the following month, the four UK nations unveiled lists of “travel corridors”, dozens of countries which were exempt from the rule, including France, Italy and Germany.

Since then, a few more countries have been added but Spain and Luxembourg have been removed.

It comes as figures showed that demand for the Eurotunnel – which takes people between the UK and France with their vehicles – is recovering to pre-coronavirus levels quicker than air travel.

The tunnel’s passenger numbers were down 21% in July compared to July last year – whereas the UK’s biggest airlines are operating at less than half their capacities last month.


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