Bangladesh, Kenya among UK’s new travel ban list

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Bangladesh, Kenya, The Philippines, and Pakistan have been added to UK’s red list to ban international arrivals from these countries amid concerns over new virus variants

Kenya and Bangladesh are among four additional countries added to the “red list” of nations from where travel to and from England is banned to control the spread of coronavirus.

The Department for Transport said Friday the number of countries on its “red list” will reach 39 when the latest restrictions take effect in England beginning 9 April. The other nations of the UK — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have similar lists.

Under the travel bans, international visitors who have departed from or travelled through red-list countries in the preceding 10 days are refused entry into England. Countries on the list include Brazil and South Africa, where two of the most concerning virus variants have been identified.

“Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh have been added to England’s red list to protect the country against new variants of coronavirus (COVID-19), at a critical time for the vaccine programme,” the Department for Transport (DfT) said in a statement.

“With over 30 million vaccinations delivered in the UK so far, the additional restrictions will help to reduce the risk of new variants – such as those first identified in South Africa (SA) and Brazil – entering England. So far, surveillance has found that few cases of the SA variant have been identified as being imported from Europe, with most coming from other parts of the world,” it said.

From 4 am local time next week Friday, international visitors who have departed from or transited through these four additional countries on a 40-country red list in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England.

British and Irish citizens and people who have residence rights in the UK can enter, as commercial flights are not banned. However, they must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at their own expense and must take a COVID-19 test on days two and eight of their self-isolation.

They will also be required to arrive into a designated port. No direct flight bans from these countries will be put in place, but passengers are advised to check their travel plans before departing for England.

During their stay, all passengers linked to the red list are required to take a coronavirus test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, and are not allowed to shorten their compulsory 10-day quarantine period on receipt of a negative test result.

They will also not be able to end their managed quarantine early through the Test to Release scheme, in place for others linked to countries not on the travel ban list.

“British nationals currently in the countries on the red list should make use of the commercial options available if they wish to return to England. Commercial routes that will enable British and Irish nationals and residents to return to England continue to operate,” the DfT said.

Overseas travel is likely to ease for Britons only after May 17, as part of the UK government’s phased roadmap for lifting coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The measures are aimed at reducing the risk posed by new virus variants into the UK, which has recorded Europe’s highest COVID-related death toll, with over 1,26,500 deaths.

No European nations are on the British red list, even though much of Europe is witnessing a resurgence of the virus that has prompted many countries to reimpose lockdown restrictions. Health experts say the surge is being driven by virus variants, including the one first identified in Britain, that are sweeping the continent. The World Health Organization on Thursday bemoaned the slow pace of vaccinations in European nations other than Britain, saying they were losing the race to protect their people.

This decision by UK comes on the backdrop of the EU issuing digital green pass for allowing travel from non EU countries, and Ireland commencing mandatory quarantine for travelers.

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