SIX countries have been put back onto the red list with immediate effect, the government has confirmed, due to the concerns over new Covid variants.
Here is everything you need to know about the new travel restrictions.
Which countries have been added to the red list?
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that six countries have been added to the red list.
South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Namibia are now on the list, which is in effect from 12pm today.
He said in a statement yesterday: “From 12pm tomorrow, 6 countries including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini & Namibia added to UK’s red list following early detection of the new B.1.1.529 variant abroad.
“We’re taking precautionary action now & will place a temp flight ban over the weekend.”
The government warned that countries could be added back on to the list if cases start to rise.
Will I have to quarantine coming back from the countries?
The hotel quarantine rules are still in place, if returning from Sunday.
Shapps confirmed: “If you’ve been to any of these countries in the last 10 days, quarantine at home as of now and Test & Trace will be in touch.
“From 12pm tomorrow, the red list and a direct flight ban from these countries will be in effect, you must quarantine at home.
“If you have visited any of these countries in the last 10 days and arrive after 4am Sunday, you MUST book a quarantine hotel at an approved facility.”
Anyone returning from a red list country has to prebook a stay at a government-mandated hotel, quarantining for 10 days which costs £2,285 per person.
An additional person pays £1,430, while kids cost £325.
Why were the countries added to the red list?
The new red list countries were added following the discovery of a new Covid strain, due to fears it could threaten the UK’s vaccine rollout.
Experts warn the strain is behind an explosion of new cases in South Africa, with some regions seeing a six-fold rise in infections in a matter of days.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain and added “the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective”
Currently called B.1.1.529, the bug has 32 mutations – twice as many as the delta variant.
Government scientists were last night spooked by the new strain, saying their main worry is the virus spike protein is “dramatically different” to the original Covid virus.
It means the vaccines and blockbuster new drugs will struggle to neutralise it – with optimistic estimates it will reduce efficacy by around a third.