US citizens have been warned against travel to the UK over spiralling coronavirus cases.
The UK was placed on the highest level of the United States travel guidance – “Level 4: Very High” – on Monday, warning that even fully-vaccinated travellers could be at risk.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued the update on the day Boris Johnson ended mask-wearing and social distancing laws, while reopening nightclubs.
The move will be a blow to the prime minister, after he sought to broker a way to reopen UK-US travel with president Joe Biden.
Americans were told to “avoid travel to the United Kingdom” but advised to make sure they are fully vaccinated if travel is essential.
“Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants,” the guidance added.
The UK joins countries including Brazil, South Africa and the Netherlands on Level 4.
India, Iran and Italy are among countries that have been badly hit by coronavirus but are a level lower on the US’s rating.
Tories’ failure to get a grip on this virus
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said the move was a “direct consequence of the Tories’ failure to get a grip on this virus”.
“Instead of their promised ‘freedom day’, the Conservatives’ shambolic handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has left us with some of the highest new case rates anywhere in the world and forced other countries to take steps to restrict travel to the UK,” the Labour MP said.
“Despite a worrying rise in infections and hospitalisations, the Government is blindly pushing ahead with removing all restrictions.”
There are currently more people with Covid in the UK… than in all of the US. pic.twitter.com/1red5fVCsT— Dr Mike Galsworthy (@mikegalsworthy) July 19, 2021
Meanwhile, in the UK some nightclubs took advantage of freedom day and opened their doors at midnight on Sunday into Monday morning.
Punters said they had “missed the buzz” of being out while others admitted they were already bored of queueing and needed the toilet.
WATCH: Celebrations at a nightclub in London as coronavirus restrictions are lifted pic.twitter.com/ms9Xd0stjy— BNO Newsroom (@BNODesk) July 18, 2021
PA news reported there were mixed feelings with regard to safety, with some admitting feelings of “apprehension” and others saying there was “zero” to worry about.
Actor Alex Clarke, 40, said: “There’s a bit of apprehension and uncertainty about the protocols.
“But as long as everyone is sensible then it’ll be alright.”
Kevin Ally, 45, who works in professional services, said: “I think we’re over-analysing it, it’s going to be awesome.
“There’s zero concern. The only concern is why we haven’t been here for a year and a half. It’s been a very long time since we’ve been out.
“It’s good to be back, and we’re here to dance.”
The prime minister was facing a backlash over his plans to make coronavirus vaccination compulsory for nightclubs and other crowded venues in the autumn.
He was also told to clarify the relaxation of isolation rules for some fully-vaccinated critical workers who are close contacts of Covid-19 cases after a Government statement said it would not be a “blanket exemption for any sector or role”.
Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill accused the Government of “an absolute shambles”.
“So, ‘freedom day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then,” he said.
“80 per cent of nightclubs have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers, as well as being put at a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments.”
“Effectively moving to compulsory vaccination”
Mark Harper, the Conservative former chief whip who chairs the Covid Recovery Group of Tory lockdown-sceptics, criticised the plans as “effectively moving to compulsory vaccination”.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee, questioned why the Government was delaying the plans until the autumn.
Labour’s shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “How can it be safe to go to nightclubs now, with no protective measures, if in September it will require double jab status? It makes no sense.
“This proposal is more confusion and incompetence from the heart of Government at the expense of public health. They need to get a grip.”