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 and dwindling case rates meant the ‘red list’ was temporarily scrapped – but now it’s back, due to concerns over a new variant. Arrivals from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Nigeria will now have to quarantine in a hotel for ten days on arrival in the UK. Flights to those countries from the UK have also been suspended for the time being.
Travellers who are returning from ‘red list’ countries have to provide a negative test result on arrival from within the past 72 hours, along with a ‘passenger locator form’. They must stump up £2,285 per head for the ten-day quarantine – covering food, accommodation, transport and testing.
All ‘red list’ arrivals must also take tests on days two and eight after they arrive. If either of the tests come back positive, the traveller has to quarantine for a further ten days from that date. Steep fines apply to anyone who fails to take tests, provide information or quarantine in a hotel.
Despite there being only a few cases of the new Covid strain so far, it’s very possible the list of banned nationalities could expand again over the coming weeks. Watch this space.