The United Kingdom government had added India in its ‘Red List’ of countries at high risk of importing COVID-19 variants of concern.
The news comes as India is seeing a massive surge in COVID-19 cases as the country is going through its worst wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The move follows the addition of the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh to the red list earlier this month.
India placed on the ‘Red List’
India has become the latest country to be added to UK’s ‘Red List’. This means that from 04:00 BST on 23rd April 2021, travel to England from India will be largely banned.
Speaking in the Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government had made the ‘difficult decision’ to add India to the list.
According to BBC, the government of UK is in the process of examining an Indian variant of COVID-19 to determine whether it should be considered a ‘variant of concern’.
Hancock talking to the House of Commons said:
Between our two countries we have ties of friendship and family and I understand the impact of this decision, but I hope that the House will concur that we must act because we must protect the progress that we have made in this country.
British, Irish and third-country nationals with residence rights (including long-term visa holders) will still be permitted to enter the country, but will be required to quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel.
What does this mean for travellers?
This decision means that those travelling to the United Kingdom from India will find the journey more expensive and difficult. The flag carriers of both the countries namely British Airways and Air India will be forced to cease direct operations from India to UK.
This will mean that travellers will have to take a transit flight to United Kingdom. One example of this will be to take Lufthansa flight from Delhi to London via Frankfurt.
However, once travellers arrive in UK, things don’t get easier for them. Passengers will have to pay £1,750 ($2,448) for the first adult staying ten nights in a government-sanctioned hotel. An additional adult will cost an extra £650 ($909), while a child aged 5-12 costs £325 ($455). If a positive COVID-19 infection is spotted, necessitating a longer stay in quarantine, the rates will be £152 ($213), £41 ($57), and £12 ($17) respectively for each additional day.
Additionally, travellers found to be lying lying about the countries they’ve traveled through in the past ten days to avoid the managed quarantine scheme will face severe punishments. These travellers could be fined up to £10,000 ($14,000) and could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Nearly 40 countries on the ‘Red List’
Nearly 40 countries have been added to the ‘Red List’ since it was set up earlier this year to protect the UK from imported cases of the so-called Brazilian and South African variants of COVID-19. These countries are:
- Cape Verde
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- French Guiana
- India (will be added to the list at 0400 on Friday April 23)
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)