Credit: Shutterstock

Red list countries return as South Africa & more added to 'no-go' list - what it means for cruises

Author: Harriet Mallinson

Published on:

Updated on:

Red list country hell has struck again after six countries were slapped back on the 'no go' list by the Government, with holidays to South Africa and Botswana impacted.

Red list countries are back - after weeks of freedom for Britons from the shackles of the strict travel rules and quarantine requirements.

Anyone heading on holiday to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Namibia will face fresh restrictions after the six were added to the red list last night amid concerns of a new Covid variant.

The new rules will come into force from midday today (Friday, November 26).

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps posted on Twitter yesterday: "From 12pm... 6 countries incl South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini & Namibia added to UK’s red list following early detection of the new B.1.1.529 variant abroad."

Related articles

He added: "We’re taking precautionary action now & will place a temp flight ban over the weekend."

From today, you must quarantine at home if you return from South Africa and from November 28, you'll need to quarantine in a hotel.

Shapps tweeted: "If you’ve been to any of these countries in the last 10 days, quarantine at home as of now and Test & Trace will be in touch.

"From 12pm... the red list and a direct flight ban from these countries will be in effect, you must quarantine at home."

South Africa: from November 28, you'll need to quarantine in a hotel. Credit: Shutterstock

The minister continued: "If you have visited any of these countries in the last 10 days and arrive after 4am Sunday, you MUST book a quarantine hotel at an approved facility."

"Public safety is our priority. We’re taking this precautionary action to protect the progress we’ve made beating the virus across the country and as ever, we’ll continue to keep our measures under review."

Today the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) updated its travel advice to state: "The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to [South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini] based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks."

The news is likely to be a blow to anyone hoping to escape to Southern Africa in search of winter sun and those with safaris booked in the coming months.

Red list countries: The news is likely to be a blow to anyone with safaris booked. Credit: Shutterstock

Travellers should be able to receive a refund on their holidays, however.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, commented: "This worrying news is a reminder that travel is not back to normal. The pandemic continues to disrupt passengers' travel plans, often with very little notice.

"As all flights are being suspended to these countries, all passengers will be entitled to a full refund for the holiday or flight, so long as they booked with a UK or EU carrier, or with any carrier due to depart from the UK or EU. Getting a refund for accommodation can be more difficult, and is dependent on the policy of the property.

"We have seen restrictions change in several countries over recent days and refunds are not always guaranteed. It is vital that travellers choose holiday providers with good, flexible booking policies in case your trip can't go ahead."

Cape Town is arguably the most naturally beautiful city in the world. Credit: Shutterstock

How will the new red list changes affect cruises?

The cruise industry has continued to welcome the opening of the world again over the past months and is likely disappointed with the news.

Cruise lines including, MSC Cruises, Azamara, NCL and AmaWaterways all offer cruises to South Africa.

An Azamara spokeswoman told World of Cruising: “We’re reviewing the announcement made today regarding the new travel limits to South Africa. Once final decisions are made, we will contact booked guests immediately.”

NCL said: “The safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit remains our highest priority. We closely monitor the evolving impacts of the everchanging COVID-19 global pandemic situation and the new regulations being implemented.

"While it is always our intention to maintain original itineraries, at times unforeseen circumstances may require us to make modifications. We appreciate our guests’ patience during this time. We will update them as appropriate.”

However, the changes may well not impact all impending cruise holidays - many cruise lines previously axed any upcoming red and amber list voyages.

For instance, AmaWaterway's Africa season has already finished for the winter and isn't operating over this period.

"AmaWaterways African Safari and Wildlife Cruises will resume operations as planned in March 2022 so it is much too soon to comment on any change that may or may not affect country entry requirements related to Covid-19," a spokesman said.

He added: "We continue to monitor very closely the recommendations from the World Health Organisation regarding Covid-19 enhanced health and safety measures as well as vaccinations in respect to travel entry requirements of the countries visited and the airlines involved. We will update our website when further information is available."

As for the industry-wide response, a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) spokesperson commented: "We continue to work alongside and actively engage with the relevant authorities."

Most recent articles