South Africans to be hit hard by UK travel changes this week

South Africans looking to travel to the UK will pay significantly more in quarantine costs from Thursday (12 August).

South Africa is currently on the ‘red list’ for entering England. Under the current travel regulations, if you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the last 10 days you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK.

At current rates, quarantining South Africans can expect to pay £1,750 (~R35,850) for 10 days and 11 nights. The additional rate for one adult or a child over 11 is £650 (~R13,300).

From Thursday this will increase to £2,285 (~R46,800) and £1,430 (~R29,300) for each additional adult.

For those facing significant financial hardship as a result of this charge, the UK government said that there will be an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking.

These travellers will be required to pay back their debt to the government in 12 monthly instalments, it said.

“There is no additional charge to your initial booking fee if you need to extend your stay as a result of positive tests at day two or day eight. We will keep package prices under review. While hotels normally set a zero fee for children aged under 3, we are setting this for children under 5 years old because they will not be tested.

“The proposed zero fee for children under five years old will mean that, for now, the government will bear the costs of additional food and drinks consumed by arrivals aged between three and five years old.”

The UK government warned that travellers who provide false information or omit key information that has been asked for in their application, will be committing fraud and may be prosecuted.

“If you have not arranged a quarantine package prior to your arrival in England, you face a penalty of up to £4,000 (R82,000) and will still have to pay for your quarantine package on arrival,” it said.

South African restrictions

While South Africa has mostly kept its borders open to international tourists since easing its first hard lockdown in mid-2020, other countries have not reciprocated, and South Africans still face strict travel restrictions.

This also impacts travellers who are dissuaded from visiting South Africa because of the difficulties in returning to their own countries.

mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 10 August, South Africa has 86 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place. This is up from around 60 major restrictions before the third Covid wave hit.

These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.

By comparison, there are currently 27 moderate restrictions in place for South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements which can include taking Covid-19 tests.


Read: When you should get your second Covid-19 shot in South Africa – and why you may need a booster down the line

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South Africans to be hit hard by UK travel changes this week