The UK has announced a ban on arrivals from South Africa following the detection of a new strain of coronavirus.
Passengers travelling from South Africa into England from 9am today (Thursday 24 December) will not be permitted to enter, "reflecting increased risk from new strain of coronavirus".
It includes those who have been in, or transited through, South Africa in the previous 10 days.
British and Irish nationals, visa holders and permanent residents arriving from South Africa will be able to enter but are required to self-isolate for 10 days along with their household.
The UK does not currently have a travel corridor with South Africa, and so anyone who has returned from the country recently should already be self-isolating for 10 days and should continue to do so.
Any exemptions usually in place – including for those related to employment – will not apply and passengers arriving in England from South Africa cannot be released from self-isolation through test to release.
People who share a household with anyone self-isolating after returning from South Africa will now also need to self-isolate until 10 days have passed since anyone they live with was last in South Africa.
The government said it was working closely with international partners to understand the changes in the virus that have been reported in South Africa and conducting a programme of further research here in the UK to inform our risk assessments.
British and Irish nationals, visa holders and permanent residents who are arriving from South Africa will be required to show a complete passenger locator form on arrival into the UK.
The Home Office will step up Border Force presence to ensure that those arriving to England from South Africa are compliant with the new restrictions.
International flights are only operating to Or Tambo International airport (Johannesburg), King Shaka International airport (Durban), and Cape Town International airport.
Those with a ticket to or from South Africa should check with their airline before travelling.
Upon arrival in South Africa, travellers will need to produce a paper copy of a negative PCR Covid-19 test to border officials.
The test must have taken place no more than 72 hours before departure. It should be conducted by a certified medical practitioner, and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted the test.
The government advises passengers carry several paper copies of their test.
Anyone without a negative PCR test may have to quarantine in a government-appointed quarantine facility, at their own cost.
Arrivals to South Africa will need to complete and produce an online travel health questionnaire on a personal device before arriving in South Africa.
The questionnaire is available from the South Africa Department of Health.