It took almost a year since the first global lockdown, but at the start of 2021 the UK – finally – significantly beefed up its border controls.
Enter the traffic light system – and those dreaded, expensive PCR tests. At the very extreme, the country announced that UK residents returning from the worst-affected ‘red list’ regions would have to quarantine in hotels. Meanwhile, everyone except British and Irish citizens (and official residents) would be turned away at the border.
The rollout of vaccines rates meant the ‘red list’ was scrapped, but it returned once again when Omicron was first detected. However, as of tomorrow (December 15), it will be scrapped once again, meaning travellers from anywhere in the world will be able to enter the UK without hotel quarantine.
Arrivals from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Nigeria previously had to stump up £2,285 per head to stay in a hotel for ten days – covering food, accommodation, transport and testing. Flights to those countries from the UK were also suspended.
Travellers who returned from ‘red list’ countries also had to provide a negative test result on arrival within 72 hours, along with a ‘passenger locator form’. They then had to take tests on days two and eight after arriving in the UK. If either of the tests came back positive, the traveller had to quarantine for a further ten days from that date. Steep fines applied to anyone who failed to take tests, provide information or quarantine in a hotel.
Who knows when the next frightening variant might crop up – because of that, it’s very possible the list of banned nationalities could reappear once again over the coming weeks. Watch this space.