LONDON: Singapore and Thailand have been added to England's and Scotland's COVID-19 travel corridor list, authorities in the United Kingdom revealed on Thursday (Sep 17).
From Saturday 4am UK time, travellers from these countries will no longer have to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival in England and Scotland.
The exemption was announced on the UK government portal, as well as on the Scottish government's official website.
The exemption applies to travellers from Singapore and Thailand so long as they have not been in, or transited through, any other non-exempt countries in the preceding 14 days, said the Department of Transport and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Singapore and Thailand had already been exempt from the FCDO’s global advisory against non-essential travel.
Singapore currently has cross-border travel arrangements with China, Malaysia, Brunei, South Korea and Japan, while talks are ongoing to establish such arrangements with Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia.
On Thursday, Singapore recorded its lowest number of COVID-19 cases in six months with 18 infections.
READ: COVID-19 - Rigorous testing could help revive travel but challenges remain, say experts
The UK government also announced that Slovenia and Guadeloupe have been dropped from the exemption list after weekly case rates there increased 102 per cent and 558 per cent respectively. Travellers arriving in England from these places after 4am on Saturday will need to self-isolate for two weeks.
"The government has made consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus, including removing countries from the travel corridors list rapidly if the public health risk of people returning from a particular country without self-isolating becomes too high," it said.
The UK has been the worst-hit country in Europe by the pandemic, with the government registering nearly 42,000 deaths.
The Office of National Statistics, which uses broader criteria for counting COVID-19 fatalities, has said closer to 58,000 Britons have died from the virus.
The government imposed new rules across England on Monday to limit socialising to groups of six people or fewer, as daily cases reach levels not seen since early May.
According to government statistics, a total of 18,371 people tested positive in England in the week to Sep 19 - up 75 per cent on the previous week.
READ: WHO Europe warns of 'alarming' COVID-19 transmission rates
FRESH SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS IN NORTHEAST ENGLAND
More than two million people in northeast England face new restrictions because of a surge in coronavirus cases, the government announced on Thursday, as it battled to contain a potential second wave of infection.
Tighter regulations on socialising are due to come into force from Friday in Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, and County Durham.
Residents will be banned from socialising in homes or gardens with people from outside their household, while food and drink venues will be restricted to table service only.
Pubs and bars will have to shut early by 10pm.
"We do not take these decisions lightly," Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament, acknowledging they would have a "real impact on families, on businesses and on communities".
But he added: "We must follow the data and act, and the data says that we must act now."
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