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Three more countries – the UAE, Rwanda and Burundi – have been added to the UK's expanding travel "red list". The move means arrivals from the three nations, as of 1pm on Friday, will be denied entry unless they are British residents.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, announced the changes on Thursday evening. Britons currently in the countries, as is currently the case for all returning travellers, must show evidence of a negative test and self-isolate at home for 10 days.
From tomorrow (Friday 29 Jan at 1pm), we’re extending our travel ban with the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda all added to the UK's red list. 1/3
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) January 28, 2021
There are now 33 destinations on the red list. Plans to force arrivals from these high-risk countries to spend 10 days under guard in a "quarantine hotel" – at their own cost – were also confirmed this week, although no start date for the scheme has been put forward.
The move, which appears to have popular support but is vehemently opposed by the travel industry, comes amid fears over new Covid variants. It puts holidays to Portugal, South America, and large parts of Africa off the cards, and will cause heartbreak for tens of thousands of Britons with family and friends overseas. According to one estimate, the move could cost the UK economy £548 million every day.
Given the existing travel restrictions, the only guests at these quarantine hotels for the time being will be returning British residents.
Portugal is the most significant country to face the harsh new rules, with around 2.5m Britons visiting each year. Dubai has attracted thousands of UK holidaymakers in recent months and the UAE as a whole welcomes around 1.5m Britons in a typical year.
Other key red list destinations include South Africa, which welcomes around 430,000 Britons annually, Brazil (155,000), Mauritius (140,000) and Argentina (125,000).
As things stand, arrivals from the rest of the world are still required to show evidence of a negative Covid test, taken in the previous 72 hours, as well as self-isolate at home for 10 days (though this can be cut to as little as five with a second negative test).
It is unclear when the travel restrictions will be relaxed, but there is hope in the travel industry that overseas holidays will be possible when the UK lockdown is eased.
The 33 hotel quarantine 'red list' countries
United Arab Emirates (including Dubai)
Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)