Countries added to red list to protect UK against variants of concern

  • travel bans implemented for visitors from Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya, and Bangladesh from 4am Friday 9 April
  • British, Irish and third-country nationals with residence rights (including long-term visa holders) arriving from these countries will be required to self-isolate in a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days
  • move follows new data showing an increased risk of importation of variants of concern

Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh have been added to England’s red list to protect the country against new variants of coronavirus (COVID-19), at a critical time for the vaccine programme.

With over 30 million vaccinations delivered in the UK so far, the additional restrictions will help to reduce the risk of new variants – such as those first identified in South Africa (SA) and Brazil – entering England. So far, surveillance has found that few cases of the SA variant have been identified as being imported from Europe, with most coming from other parts of the world.

From 4am on Friday 9 April, international visitors who have departed from or transited through Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England. Only British and Irish citizens, or those with residence rights in the UK (including long-term visa holders), will be allowed to enter and they must stay in a government-approved quarantine facility for 10 days. They will also be required to arrive into a designated port. No direct flight bans from these countries will be put in place, but passengers are advised to check their travel plans before departing for England.

During their stay, passengers will be required to take a coronavirus test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, and they will not be allowed to shorten their quarantine period on receipt of a negative test result. They will also not be able to end their managed quarantine early through the Test to Release scheme.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces risk assessments of the spread of variants of concern internationally. These risk assessments cover a range of factors for each country including:

  • assessment of surveillance and sequencing capability
  • available surveillance and genome sequencing data
  • evidence of in-country community transmission of COVID-19 variants
  • evidence of exportation of new variants to the UK or other countries
  • travel connectivity with the UK

The government has made it consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus and has added these destinations to the red list to protect public health.

The government continues to work with the hospitality sector to ensure it is ready to meet any increased demand.

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.

British nationals in these countries should check Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice and follow local guidance. The FCDO will continue to offer tailored consular assistance to British nationals in need of support overseas on a 24/7 basis.

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