Due to the new COVID-19 variant (B.1.1.529), which has been declared under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the UK government is taking precaution and has added six African countries to its red list.
From November 26, 2021 12:00 noon local time, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia will be added to the UK’s travel red list. A temporary suspension on commercial and private planes travelling from the six countries will also come into force until November 28, 2021 04:00 am to reduce the risk of importing the new COVID-19 variant while hotel quarantine is being set up. This excludes cargo and freight without passengers.
Moreover, the government has also added the following travel restrictions:
UK and Irish residents arriving between midday of November 26, 2021 and 04:00 am local time November 28, 2021 from these six countries will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days. They must then take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 post-arrival date.
UK and Irish residents arriving from 04:00 AM local time on November 28, 2021 must be isolated in a government-approved facility for 10 days. During their stay, they will be required to take a coronavirus test on day two and day eight.
Starting November 26, 2021 midday local time, non-UK and Irish residents who have been in the six African countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through any of these countries while changing flights.
“We are taking precautionary action to protect public health and the progress of our vaccine rollout at a critical moment as we enter winter, and we are monitoring the situation closely,” UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid in the government’s statement.
The new COVID-19 variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility.
No cases have been identified yet in the UK.
“We’re taking this early precautionary action now to protect the progress made across the country, and will continue to keep a close eye on the situation as we continue into the winter.” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
Full details of the new travel restrictions can be found here.