The government has extended its South Africa travel ban to a range of countries across southern Africa, as well as several destinations in the Indian Ocean, while Israel and Jerusalem have also been removed from England’s quarantine-free travel corridor list.
The latest changes were confirmed by the Department for Transport (DfT) on 7 January.
Anyone who has travelled from or through Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Angola, as well as Mauritius and the Seychelles, in the past 10 days will be barred entry into England.
The ban, however, does not extend to British and Irish nationals, longer-term visa holders and permanent residents, meaning any returning holidaymakers will be able to come home, although they will have to self-isolate for 10 days upon their return to the UK along with the rest of their household.
Anyone returning from these locations will not be able to take advantage of the government’s test to release scheme to shorten their self-isolation requirement.
The new restrictions will come into effect from 4am on Saturday (9 January). The DfT said the move was part of efforts to guard against import of a new Covid-19 variant initially detected in South Africa.
"The measures will be in place for an initial period of two weeks while we review the scientific data and alternative ways to protect the UK and our partners in Africa," said the DfT.
Israel and Jerusalem have also been removed from England’s travel corridor list following what the DfT described as a "significant increase" in confirmed Covid cases "similar in trajectory to the UK".
The DfT said the decision to widen its ban on travel from southern Africa was based on a "steep rise in incidence" of South Africa’s new Covid-19 variant.
"The new variant has vastly increased the risk of community transmission between nine other southern African countries, as well as the Seychelles and Mauritius, which both have strong travel links with South Africa," said the DfT.