UK extends travel ban to protect against South African Covid variant after data showed 'urgent' action needed

A UK travel ban intended to protect against a fast-spreading coronavirus variant has been extended to include a number of southern African countries after data showed "urgent" action was needed.

In a bid to stop the South African variant of coronavirus from seeding in the UK, entry into England will be banned to those who have travelled from or through any southern African country in the last 10 days.

Those countries include Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Angola – as well as Seychelles and Mauritius.

The government says it responded "swiftly to new evidence showing an urgent need to halt travel from all southern African countries" to help prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 variant identified in South Africa. 

It said "urgent restrictions" were needed, on top of the ban on travellers from South Africa which was imposed on December 23, in order to "prevent the spread of this strain in the UK". 

The travel ban does not include British and Irish Nationals, longer-term visa holders and permanent residents, who will be permitted to enter but will be required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival along with their household.   

People sharing a household with anyone self-isolating from these countries will also have to self-isolate for 10 days.  

The travel ban comes into force from 4am this Saturday.

The measures will be in place initially for two weeks while scientific data is reviewed and alternative ways to protect the UK and African nations is assessed.

Israel - the country to have vaccinated the highest proportion of its population - (and Jerusalem) will be to be removed from the travel corridors list for England following data showing a significant increase in confirmed cases.

It means from anyone returning from there after 4am on Saturday must isolate for 10 days.