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Six countries added to COVID-19 red list for England

26 November 2021

South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe have been added to the COVID-19 travel red list for England from midday GMT on Friday 26 November 2021.

The government has also made arrangements to ban direct flights for a short period of time and to reimplement hotel quarantine beyond this. The situation requires monitoring as further countries could be added in the near future.

What arrangements have been put in place?

Direct flights from the six countries to England have been banned between midday GMT on Friday 26 November 2021 and 4 am GMT on Sunday 28 November 2021.

From midday on Friday 26 November 2021, individuals who are not British citizens, Irish citizens or UK residents will not be allowed to enter England unless they have only transited the relevant countries airside in order to catch a connecting flight.

Between midday GMT on Friday 26 November 2021 and 4 am GMT on Sunday 28 November 2021, British citizens, Irish citizens and UK residents who have been in any of these countries within the last 10 days must follow additional guidance when completing their passenger locator form, quarantine at home for 10 days and take NHS PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 of their arrival.

British nationals, Irish nationals and UK residents who have been in any of the countries within the last 10 days and plan to arrive after 4 am GMT on Sunday 28 November must undertake pre-departure COVID-19 testing, complete a passenger locator form and book a quarantine hotel package including day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 PCR tests in advance of their arrival.

The relevant guidance on processing of visitor applications from these countries has not yet been updated, but it is anticipated visitor visa processing will be suspended.

Why have these measures been introduced?

A new SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529 (also known as the Nu variant) has been designated as a variant under investigation by the UK Health Security Agency. The variant has a large number of spike protein mutations and other mutations in comparison to the original strain that causes COVID-19 illness. Investigation needs to be undertaken to determine whether existing vaccines and treatments are less effective against the variant, as well as whether it is more transmissible.

Further guidance will be issued once investigations have progressed and any mitigations have been recommended. In the meantime, it is possible that further countries will be added to the red list as the variant spreads.

If you have queries about this development, please contact a member of the Immigration Team.


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Covid 19 - Coronavirus

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Around the world, COVID-19 has resulted in wide-spread disruption, including office closures, travel bans, cancelled flights and quarantines. This has many serious knock-on effects for immigration compliance and visas.

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