The United Kingdom has added Ethiopia, Oman, Somalia and Qatar to its travel ‘red list’, to protect the country against new variants of Covid-19.
While South Africa remains on the original red list of countries, the update will cause additional headaches for travellers who were planning to fly to the UK indirectly through a connecting flight.
A BusinessTech reader indicated that he had to cancel his flight to the UK, which connected through Doha in Qatar, due to the new restrictions.
Visitors who have departed from or transited through these countries in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. This includes South Africa.
Only British and Irish citizens or those with residence rights, including long-term visa holders, will be allowed to enter and must stay 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.
“The government continues to work with the hospitality sector to ensure it is ready to meet any increased demand – with over 58,000 rooms on standby, which can be made available to book as needed,” the Home Office said.
“British nationals currently in the countries on the red list should make use of the commercial options available if they wish to return to England. Commercial routes that will enable British and Irish nationals and residents to return to England continue to operate.”
Last week UAE-based airline Emirates announced that flights from South Africa will remain suspended until 20 March 2021.
This is in line with government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa into the UAE, the airline said in a notice published on its website.
Daily passenger flights to Johannesburg resumed from 11 March as initially planned – however, outbound flights remain suspended.
“Emirates remains committed to serving our customers in South Africa, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow,” it said.
“We continue to work closely with all relevant authorities in this regard, and will endeavour to provide our customers with needed support to adjust their travel plans.”
Virgin Atlantic also extended its ban on flights to and from South Africa and may not resume flights until April. British Airways announced the suspension of all South Africa flights until 16 April.
A number of countries have also indicated that travellers from South Africa will be barred from entering – a sign that the country could be facing reputational damage as a result of the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19, which has been referred to as the “South African variant” abroad.