Six southern African nations will be added to the United Kingdom’s travel warning list as of noon on November 26 because to worries about a new Covid-19 strain that has been found in the area.
As a result of the change, non-UK and Irish people who have been in any of the affected countries in the last 10 days will be denied entrance into England starting at 1200 today. The change applies to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. According to the Department for Transport, this does not apply to people who have remained airside and have just transited through any of these nations while changing aircraft.
Nationals of the United Kingdom who arrive between 12 noon today and 0400 on November 28 and who have been in one of the listed countries within the previous 10 days must quarantine at home for 10 days and undergo NHS PCR tests on days two and eight after their arrival, regardless of whether they have already scheduled a lateral flow test.
Then, starting at 0400 on November 28, all citizens of the United Kingdom and Ireland who arrive from these countries will be obliged to book and pay for a 10-day stay in a government-approved hotel quarantine facility, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.
Additionally, a temporary restriction on commercial and private flights traveling from the six nations will be in force from 12 p.m. today until 0400 on November 28 “in order to decrease the possibility of introducing this new variety under study while hotel quarantine is set up.”
Because of the flight restriction, British Airways stated that it will be in touch with clients who had purchased tickets for flights to South Africa. It claimed it will “get in contact with solutions” for passengers who were affected by the cancellation. Virgin Atlantic also has flights to South Africa.
A new variety of Covid-19, detected in southern Africa, prompted the government to take action, according to a statement from the United Kingdom Health Security Agency. Authorities believe this new strain may include “major” alterations that may “alter the virus’s behavior in relation to vaccinations, treatments and transmission,” according to health experts.
As of yet, there have been no reports of the variation in the United Kingdom.
“We are taking cautious measures to preserve public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a vital time as we approach winter,” said Sajid Javid, the UK’s health and social care minister. “We are continuously monitoring our position.”
Added Transport Secretary Grant Shapps: “We’ve always maintained that public safety is our number one priority, which is why we’ve maintained safeguards that enable us to defend the United Kingdom against new variations of terrorist attacks.”
In October, the United Kingdom government abandoned its prior traffic light system for overseas travel, instead focusing on maintaining a red list of nations that pose a high risk of terrorism. All countries were removed off the list earlier this month, but the government said that it would retain the possibility of re-adding places to the list if the situation with the coronavirus changed in those areas.