COVID-19: Travel rules update and what countries are on the red list

New travel rules have recently become active, and more countries have been added to the red list.

As Christmas is fast approaching, COVID-19 travel rules may stump those hopeful to depart England for the festive break.

New rules combined with new countries being added to the red list makes travelling to and from England tricky.

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Due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant, and it’s seemingly rapid spread through the UK, with over 250 confirmed cases in England, these travel restrictions have been bought in to slow down the spread of the new variant, which was believed to have originated in Botswana.

Despite the mutated coronavirus strain still being largely unknown due to it being very new, it has prompted the Government take action, such as bringing in new travel rules, and making a decision whether to essentially ‘cancel’ Christmas.

The roll-out programme may be intensified as cases of the Omicron variant rises every day.

The introduction of the restrictions are thought to be there just to simply buy time, to fully understand what the new variant is actually capable of - a process that may run in to the New Year.

Which countries are on the red list?

Current countries on the red list are:

- Angola

- Botswana

- Eswatini

- Lesotho

- Malawi

- Mozambique

- Namibia

- Nigeria

- South Africa

- Zamibia

- Zimbabwe

What are the travel rules for red lists?

As per the government website, if you are travelling to England you must:

- Take a COVID-19 test at least 2 days before you travel to England.

- Book a quarantine hotel package, including a further 2 COVID-19 tests

- Complete a passenger location form

What happens when you arrive in England?

- Quarantine in a hotel, and take 2 COVID-19 tests.

Quarantine in England is for 10 days in a hotel. This can cost upwards of £2000, but provides meals. The meals have been heavily scrutinised on social media, labelled as looking “unedible” and like “ready meals from a supermarket”.

New travel rules are rules we have seen before, with some being reinstated. People coming to England must show proof that they have tested negative for COVID-19 before travelling.

These rules apply to everyone, even if the person travelling has received 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s currently unknown how long the countries on the red list will remain, or how long these new travel restrictions take place, but it’s thought that the new restrictions will be in place until at least the New Year.

Most of the countries on the red list are from Africa, with over 20 cases thought to come from travel from there.