Simon CalderFri, 2 April 2021, 8:49 pm
The government said the four countries had been added “to protect the country against new variants of Covid-19 at a critical time for the vaccine programme”.
A statement said: “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 and Brazil – entering England.
“So far, surveillance has found that few cases of the South Africa variant have been identified as being imported from Europe, with most coming from other parts of the world.
“From 4am on Friday 9 April, international visitors who have departed from or transited through Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England.
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“Only British and Irish citizens, or those with residence rights in the UK (including long-term visa holders), will be allowed to enter and they must stay in a government-approved quarantine facility for 10 days. 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.”
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “Our flights between London Heathrow and Manchester to Islamabad and Lahore will be departing as scheduled until Friday 9 April.”
The cost of hotel quarantine for one traveller is £1,750, covering 11 nights with three meals per day.
The move affects countries with a total population of 541 million. Many British people have family connections in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and there is now likely to be a rush to return before next Friday’s deadline.
The addition of Kenya, the biggest tourist location in east Africa and heavily dependent on overseas visitors, has been deplored by the co-owner of safari camps in the Maasai Mara.
Paul Goldstein said: “Kenya has had a fraction – fewer than 2,500 – of the Covid-related deaths than the UK. It has locked down most of the country for 60 days. It is a distant relative to somewhere like France yet finds itself on the new arbitrary red list of countries.
“This is nanny-state bullying not based on any sort of science, with no thought as to how damaging this hawkish folly will be.
“Trying to distract from earlier appalling mismanagement of the virus with these sort of discriminatory policies, just succeeds in thrusting millions into penury.”
All arrivals to Scotland from abroad – apart from Ireland – are required to go into hotel quarantine.
Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy The PC Agency, and an advocate for Covid-19 testing rather than quarantine, said: “The red list is going to flex enormously in the coming months, with weekly updates likely to see countries added at short notice.
“But it’s interesting to see the government giving one week’s notice of the changes. This signals their plan for the summer – consumers will get one week’s notice of a country being moved from green to amber or red under the new ‘traffic lights’ system.”
The chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, Julia Lo Bue-Said, said: “The latest additions to the red list demonstrate how changeable the situation can be, and demonstrate the importance of workable, mitigation solutions to avoid uncertainty in the future.”
Leisure travel abroad from the UK is currently illegal.
The prime minister is expected to outline a framework for resuming international travel at a news conference on Easter Monday.