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Travel Bans and COVID Hotels

Global #travel has been part of our daily lives for many decades. More so in the 21st century than ever.

At no point has anyone imagined the mayhem we saw in 2020 with travel bans, #COVID testing and all the restrictions placed upon human movement. However, with a deadly disease lurking around the corner, drastic measures have to be put in place to ensure the safety of a country's citizens and those travelling.

Like many other countries, the UK has been reluctant to limit its people's movement and those who want to visit the country. Measures have been put in place to balance health concerns and travel and the idea of "business as usual" (at least as usual as possible). Travel Corridors, test and trace, test-and-release, pre-flight testing and self-isolation have been part of that process.

However, the gremlins of this COVID virus continue to rage on, and further drastic measures have now been put in place to ensure the country's safety. Travellers must now grapple with the ever-moving and changing requirements around travel and checking on unconfirmed information by the media and delayed government announcements.

Some of the latest changes are as follows:-

Expanded Red-List (Banned Countries)

The Home Office has updated the confirmed (and growing) list of countries subject to a travel #ban to the UK. Those who have travelled to or transited through the countries listed below will not be able to fly to the UK. Direct flights from those countries are also banned.

The travel ban does not affect #British Citizens or those who already hold long-term UK visas (visit visas not included). However, such individuals will have to self-isolate or isolate at a COVID hotel (see below) for no less than ten days. Test-and-Release scheme, which generally allows an individual to be tested after five days of isolation and be release should there be a negative result, will not apply to these individuals.

Travel ban from some of the countries below have already started, and the latest additional countries (the UAE, Rwanda and Burundi) began at 1 pm on Friday, 29 January 2021.

The list of countries are:

  • Angola

  • Argentina

  • Bolivia

  • Botswana

  • Brazil

  • Burundi

  • Cape Verde

  • Chile

  • Colombia

  • Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Ecuador

  • Eswatini

  • French Guiana

  • Guyana

  • Lesotho

  • Malawi

  • Mauritius

  • Mozambique

  • Namibia

  • Panama

  • Paraguay

  • Peru

  • Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)

  • Rwanda

  • Seychelles

  • South Africa

  • Suriname

  • Tanzania

  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)

  • Uruguay

  • Venezuela

  • Zambia

  • Zimbabwe

Other countries may be added (or removed) in the future depending on the spread of the virus.

COVID Isolation Hotels

The Government has announced that those on the list of countries mentioned above (and whichever countries added in the future) will be subject to a supervised self-isolation period of ten days.

Instead of the option of self-isolating at home or with other family members, which has previously been allowed, designated COVID isolation hotels will be made available for travellers to isolate during the requisite isolation period. Travellers will also be subject to regular testing during those ten days, to ensure that no COVID-positive travellers will be released prematurely.

The individual traveller will need to bear the cost of their stay at these hotels.

A list of approved hotels and the likely costs will be published in due course by the Government.

Whether only travellers from the so call "red-list" as detailed above are required to stay at COVID hotels during their initial self-isolation period, or potentially, all travellers are required to stay at these hotels is something that is being debated and discussed. No doubt further announcements will be made in due course should there be any changes.

We will continue to provide updates on this topic as it develops.

Shores & Legal are experienced and expert immigration partners for your business and personal immigration requirements. We help companies identify their immigration compliance gaps and help businesses set up and operate an effective immigration compliance programme. If you wish to discuss your UK immigration requirements, contact us at +44 (0) 207 097 6778 or

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