Yesterday saw the world react to the discovery of a new variant of Covid which scientists are concerned could be resistant to vaccines. We have been here many times before in the last couple of years but at this point, it’s not worth stressing about travel as really nobody knows anything concrete. The whole “mink” variant caused similar alarm but never really came to anything. Hopefully, they will find out that it is not as much of an issue as they fear and travel will not be further restricted.
South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe moved onto the red list at 12.00 midday Friday 26 November.
There is a ban on all direct commercial and private flights from these countries from 12.00 midday Friday 26 November to 4am Sunday 28 November.
If you have been in any of these countries and arrive in England between midday on Friday 26 November and 4am Sunday 28 November, you must quarantine at home or at alternative appropriate accommodation, following the guidance set out on this page.
On arrival in the UK you must go immediately to a place where you can quarantine for 10 days, or the duration of your stay in the UK, whichever is shorter.
Quarantine applies to you and your household, or whoever you are staying with.
NHS Test and Trace services will contact you to issue your free COVID-19 PCR tests to be taken on day 2 and day 8.
In extremely limited circumstances, where it is not possible to accommodate a visit to a severely ill or dying, relative or member of your household from within a Managed Quarantine Facility (MQF), you may be eligible for a compassionate exemption.
If you have been in those countries in the last 10 days you can expect to receive a PCR test to take at home. The government seem to be pretty efficient with this as people are already getting messages saying that a PCR test has been sent. This is good to see after the whole debacle previously where they did not seem to be able to identify people who had returned from certain countries during the Beta variant restrictions.
The red list is due to be reviewed next in three weeks time, sadly just before Christmas leading to great uncertainty for those due to travel.
According to data from the aviation analytics firm Cirium, only South Africa had riect flights to the UK anyway.
For Nov 15 – Nov 28 2021 (Last two weeks):
• There were a total of 28 flights scheduled UK to/from Cape Town and 7,652 seats (flights operated by British Airways)
• There were a total of 54 flights scheduled UK to/from Johannesburg and 14,472 seats (this includes both ways and operated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic)
• In total there were 82 flights and 22,124 seats (both directions combined)
For December 2021:
• There are a total of 120 flights scheduled UK to/from Cape Town and 32,637 seats (flights operated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic)
• There are a total of 169 flights scheduled UK to/from Johannesburg and 46,662 seats (flights operated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic)
• In total there are 289 flights and 79,299 seats (both directions combined)
Qatar, Emirates airlines ban Southern Africa flights, other countries join ban
One of the other concerns, if you are not travelling to those affected countries, would be transitting in one of the big hubs such as Dubai or Doha. I’m sure the government was also thinking about this given that previously those countries were on the red list due to the risks of large volumes of people transitting. Last night both Qatar Airways and Emirates imposed restrictions.
Qatar said in a press statement ”
Due to the recent emergence of the new COVID-19 B.1.1529 variant, and with immediate effect, Qatar Airways will no longer be accepting passengers travelling from South Africa, Zimbabwe or Mozambique. However we will continue to accept passengers for travel into these countries in-line with current restrictions.
Passengers who are booked on Qatar Airways flights from airports in all three countries, including Johannesburg (JNB), Capetown (CPT), Durban (DUR), Harare (HRE) and Maputo (MPM), will not be accepted for travel until further notice.
Effective 27 November 2021, until further notice, Emirates is temporarily suspending passenger operations to and from South Africa (Johannesburg, Durban Cape Town), Zimbabwe (Harare) and Zambia (Lusaka).
In addition, as directed by the Dubai COVID‑19 Command and Control Centre (CCC), all travellers originating from, or transiting from, the countries listed below will not be accepted for travel into Dubai with effect from Saturday 27 November 2021 until further notice.
Affected customers do not need to call us immediately for rebooking. Customers can simply hold on to their Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with their travel agent or booking office to make new travel plans.
Today Oman also followed banning travellers from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini — effective on Sunday.
US bans entry to those visiting 8 Southern African countries in last 14 days
The US banned entry to most non-US citizens from 8 Southern African countries to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi. Non-U.S. citizens who have been in those countries within the prior 14 days will not be allowed into the United States.