COVID-19: More countries added to UK travel ‘red list’

Travel to the UK from the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda will be banned as the government takes further action to prevent the spread of the COVID variant first found in South Africa.

From 1pm on Friday, non-British or Irish passengers who have been in or transited through those countries in the last 10 days will no longer be granted access to the UK.

British and Irish nationals, or other nationals with residence rights in the UK, will still be able to enter the country but will have to self-isolate for 10 days at home.

They will not have the option to reduce their isolation period with a negative COVID test.

Non-British or Irish passengers from the three countries will no longer be granted access to the UK

Any travel exemptions usually in place, including for business travel, will not apply.

There will also be a ban on direct passenger flights from the UAE, which is made up of seven emirates including Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

As part of the action, from 4am on Friday all arrivals who have been in the UAE, Burundi or Rwanda in the 10 days before their arrival will have to self-isolate – as well as their households – immediately and will not be able to use the “test to release” scheme to shorten their quarantine period.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned that “passengers must still have proof of a negative test and completed Passenger Locator Form before arrival – or could otherwise face a £500 fine for each”.

The government said it took the decision to add three more countries to the UK’s travel “red list” due to concerns the South African variant may have spread to the UAE, Burundi and Rwanda.

There are now 33 countries on the “red list”, which also includes all those in South America, as well as large parts of southern Africa and Portugal.

On Wednesday, prime minister Boris Johnson announced UK nationals and residents returning from “red list” countries will soon have to quarantine in government-provided accommodation – such as hotels – for 10 days.

The government has not yet revealed when the hotel quarantine plan will come into force, with more details on new border measures due to be set out next week.

Dubai is a popular destination for British holidaymakers seeking winter sunshine.

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Home secretary Priti Patel used a statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday to reinforce the government’s message that “people should simply not be travelling” during the current lockdown restrictions.

In criticism of social media “influencers” who have jetted abroad, Ms Patel told MPs: “Even at St Pancras, people have been turning up with their skis – that is clearly not acceptable.

“We see plenty of influencers on social media showing off about which parts of the world they are in, mainly in sunny parts of the world.

“Going on holiday is not an exemption and people must stay at home.”


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