Flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from midday on Friday and all six countries will be added to the red list, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.
It comes following the emergence of a new Covid variant, detected in South Africa, which experts say is the “worst one we’ve seen so far”.
COVID-19 UPDATE:@UKHSA is investigating a new variant. More data is needed but we're taking precautions now.
From noon tomorrow six African countries will be added to the red list, flights will be temporarily banned, and UK travellers must quarantine.
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) November 25, 2021
– What is the ‘red list’?
It is a Government list of countries from which people travelling to the UK are subjected to restrictions in a bid to protect the UK from coronavirus variants of concern.
– What determines which countries are added?
A range of factors are assessed, including evidence of new variants being exported to the UK or other countries, and a country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
– Who is on the list?
Six African countries are on the red list for travel.
These are: South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe
In October, the Government removed all countries from its red list in a dramatic easing of travel restrictions.
– What has the Government said about the new variant?
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain and added “the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective”.
– What impact does being on the list have on travel?
People who have been in a red list country in the previous 10 days are not allowed to enter the UK, unless they are a UK or Irish national or have residence rights in the UK.
– What about quarantine hotels and testing?
People who are allowed to enter the UK from a red list country must quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for at least 10 days.
Mr Javid said: “Those countries are South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana. We will be requiring anyone that arrives from those countries from 4am on Sunday to quarantine in hotels.
“If anyone arrives before then they should self-isolate at home and take a PCR test on day two and day eight. And if anyone has arrived from any of those countries over the last 10 days, we would ask them to take PCR tests.”
– Are direct flights banned from red list countries?
Flights from the six African countries now on the red list have been temporarily banned, the Government has said.