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Red list: What the ban on six Southern African countries means for travellers

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In a repeat of the occasions of final winter, the UK authorities has responded to an alert a few new variant of concern by placing a flights ban on South Africa – and including the nation, and 5 neighbours, to the “crimson checklist”.

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British and Irish residents or residents arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe after 4am on Sunday 29 November might be required to e-book and pay for a UK government-approved lodge quarantine facility for 10 days.

Anybody else who has been in these six international locations prior to now 10 days might be denied entry.

These are the important thing questions and solutions.

What’s the priority?

The UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA) has designated the B.1.1.529 variant as a brand new “variant underneath investigation”.

The variant was first noticed in Botswana on 11 November, the place three circumstances have been recorded. In South Africa, the primary case was recognized on 14 November. Based on the Nationwide Institute for Communicable Ailments, 22 circumstances have now been recorded.

A further case has been recognized in Hong Kong, involving a 36-year-old traveller who had stayed in South Africa from 23 October to 11 November.

Medical consultants concern the brand new variant is very transmissible and efficient at evading the physique’s immune response.

The UKHSA chief government, Dr Jenny Harries, says: “That is essentially the most important variant we’ve encountered so far and pressing analysis is underway to study extra about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility.”

Ought to all of us be apprehensive?

The DHSC says: ”No circumstances have been recognized within the UK.

“We’re taking these precautionary measures to guard public well being and the progress we’ve made to date via our profitable vaccination programme.”

What occurs to fast arrivals from southern Africa?

Individuals arriving at London Heathrow on Friday morning are the fortunate ones.

Virgin Atlantic flight VS450 from Johannesburg is first in at 6.47am. It will likely be adopted by British Airways flights BA56 from Johannesburg (due in at 7.34am) and BA44 from Cape City (due 10 minutes later, at 7.44am). As South Africa won’t be on the crimson checklist by then, the passengers face no restrictions.

Flights attributable to arrive on Saturday morning have been cancelled. Anybody determined to return from South Africa and keep away from lodge quarantine might attempt to discover house on Ethiopian Airways by way of Addis Ababa or Kenya Airways by way of Nairobi on Friday.

On arrival they might want to go into house self-isolation for 10 days and take a number of assessments, however in contrast with the choice it’s not so dangerous.

Scheduled and personal passenger planes travelling from any of the six international locations might be banned from arriving within the UK from 12 midday on Friday till 4am Sunday.

In follow, this merely means Friday’s flights from South Africa to London Heathrow have all been grounded on UK authorities orders. Cargo flights can proceed.

Why the flight ban?

Earlier this yr the UK authorities stopped banning flights from particular international locations, as a result of it was clear that prohibiting direct arrivals truly elevated danger and made it tougher to establish travellers from crimson checklist international locations.

However the DHSC now says it desires “to cut back the chance of importing this new variant underneath investigation whereas lodge quarantine is stood up”.

UK and Irish travellers booked on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights from Cape City and Johannesburg to London Heathrow on Friday will discover their flights cancelled. They are going to be capable to fly from Saturday night onwards, as a result of these plane are attributable to arrive after the flight ban ends at 4am on Sunday.

However arrivals should go straight into lodge quarantine, at a value of £2,285 for a solo traveller. The worth consists of meals and two PCR assessments throughout the keep.

Non-UK and Irish residents who’ve been in any of the crimson checklist international locations within the earlier 10 days might be refused entry into England.

What are the choices for British travellers in South Africa or its neighbours?

1. They’ll fly to the UK both instantly or, if flights are cancelled due to the crimson itemizing, by way of a 3rd nation. As issues stand, they might want to go into lodge quarantine if they’ve been in any of the crimson listed nations prior to now 10 days.

2. To keep away from lodge quarantine they’ll “launder” their standing for 10 full days in some other nation after which journey to the UK with no restrictions.

3. They’ll wait, within the hope that issues in regards to the new variant show unfounded and that the six international locations are quickly faraway from the crimson checklist.

What about my Christmas vacation in southern Africa?

At current airways and vacation corporations try to evaluate the scenario and resolve easy methods to reply. Within the absence of additional info, the idea might be that December journeys to the six international locations will go forward as deliberate.

In case your departure is cancelled – as some are prone to be – you might be entitled to a full money refund.

However when you have booked separate components of the journey (for instance automotive rental, lodging or a safari) then the provider will not be obliged to give you your a refund. They’ll take the view: the product you booked is obtainable, and the truth that you possibly can’t get right here isn’t our downside.

The flight remains to be going forward however I don’t need to go …

There isn’t a computerized proper to get a full money refund, however each British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have beneficiant options – permitting you to cancel with out penalty in change for a voucher for future journey.

Tour operators – who put collectively flights and different components of a vacation – ought to be versatile.

If I am going to South Africa, will my insurance coverage be legitimate?

That relies upon. Late on Thursday evening, the Overseas Workplace modified its journey recommendation to say: “The FCDO advises in opposition to all however important journey to South Africa primarily based on the present evaluation of Covid-19 dangers.”

Customary journey insurance coverage insurance policies are prone to be invalidated for those who journey in opposition to Overseas Workplace recommendation.

What does the journey trade suppose?

The sudden return of those six southern African nations to the crimson checklist induced fast despondency in an trade already traumatised by the coronavirus pandemic.

Julia Lo Bue-Stated, chief government of the Benefit Journey Partnership, mentioned: “All of us settle for the federal government should make choices within the curiosity of public well being.

“Nonetheless, some 20 months into the disaster and 6 weeks after taking South Africa and its neighbours off the crimson checklist, it simply appears like a recreation of déjà vu.

“For travellers and the journey trade it simply demonstrates the significance of reserving with an skilled human journey agent, guaranteeing flexiblilty and monetary safety as half and parcel of a reserving.”

Are extra international locations prone to be part of the crimson checklist?

Presumably, if the World Well being Organisation decides that the variant is harmful. However conversely the issues could rapidly dissipate, as they did a yr in the past when there have been worries a few so-called Danish variant being unfold between mink and people.

The flight ban and onerous quarantine necessities had been withdrawn just a few days later.

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