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Coronavirus: UK adds more countries to travel ban list amid COVID variant fears

People on Brighton beach, East Sussex. Picture date: Friday April 2, 2021. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Experts have previously warned that overseas summer holidays for Brits are looking "unlikely" amid surging virus numbers in Europe and fears of variants. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

A string of countries have been added to the UK’s travel red list to protect the nation against variants of COVID-19.

Travel bans will be implemented for visitors entering the UK from the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh from 4am on 9 April, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

British, Irish and third-country nationals with residence rights, including long-term visa holders, arriving from these countries will be required to self-isolate in a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days.

During their stay, passengers will be required to take a coronavirus test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, and they will not be allowed to shorten their quarantine period on receipt of a negative test result.

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.

These countries join the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, South Africa, United Arab Emirates (UAE), amongst others. The move is based on advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

READ MORE: UK summer holidays abroad 'unlikely' amid vaccine chaos and variant fears

It comes as some 31 million people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in the UK, according to the latest government data.

The additional restrictions come as an attempt to reduce the risk of new variants, such as those first identified in South Africa (SA) and Brazil, from 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.

The earliest date people from England can travel abroad for a holiday is 17 May, when the government aims to move to step three of its lockdown exit plan. However, experts have warned that overseas summer holidays for Brits are looking "unlikely" amid surging virus numbers in Europe and fears of variants.

Government scientist Dr Mike Tildesley said that the UK faces a "real risk" if people travel abroad, while travel secretary Grant Shapps said it was "too early to tell" when foreign travel might be back on.

Anyone who leaves England to travel outside the country without a reasonable excuse will now be hit with a £5,000 fine, as per new coronavirus laws that will last until the end of June.

READ MORE: Ryanair expands summer holiday schedule even as Brits face fines for travel

People have been told not to travel unless they have a legally permitted reason to do so, which includes work, medical or compassionate grounds and attending weddings and funerals. In England, they must also complete a declaration form when leaving the country.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has previously warned that the UK could soon be hit by a third wave of coronavirus infections similar to that currently being experienced by other European countries.

Earlier this week, French president Emmanuel Macron announced his decision to impose a four-week nationwide lockdown from Saturday in a bid to control infection numbers, hospitalisations and deaths in the country.

It came after Germany declared the whole of France a "high-risk" area for coronavirus infections, meaning that travellers had to show a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine upon arrival.

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