South Africa travel

The UK is not just off the cards for South Africans, but for every country in the region. Image: Adobe Stock

More travel bans: UK blocks entry to entire Southern African region

Anyone from Southern Africa or who has been here within 10 days will be refused entry.

South Africa travel

The UK is not just off the cards for South Africans, but for every country in the region. Image: Adobe Stock

The United Kingdom has extended its travel ban to include all countries in the Southern African region in a bid to protect its population from the second COVID-19 variant which was identified in South Africa.  

The discovery of the second variant in December 2020 led to renewed border closures by several countries. 

On 24 December, the UK closed its borders to passengers arriving from South Africa and any other visitors who had been in South Africa in the 10 days prior to arrival in the UK.


The ruling banned direct flights from South Africa and denied entry to people who had visited or transited through South Africa in the previous 10 days.  Airlines were forced to suspend flights between the two countries.

UK carriers British Airways and Virgin Atlantic had to halt all flights between the two countries as a result of the directive.


New measures to curb rapidly rising infection rates in the UK were announced on 6 January. The updated measures forbid travel and recreation activities.

Under the newly implemented lockdown measures, most of the UK’s population is required to stay at home — with the exception of essential workers and those who need to move around for special purposes.


On 8 January, the UK government tightened up entry requirements for all arriving passengers.

The government implemented a ruling which requires passengers arriving from all international destinations to produce a negative PCR COVID-19 test result on arrival. The test must be taken within 72 hours of departure.


travel ban
If you are from Southern Africa, or have travelled here in the last 10 days, you won’t get into the UK now. Image: Adobe Stock

The UK government has also decided to expand the ban on nationalities that are not permitted to enter the country.

“The government has responded swiftly to new evidence showing an urgent need to halt travel from all Southern African countries to help prevent the spread of a new coronavirus variant identified in South Africa,” it said.

“The move follows new data on the steep rise in the incidence of the new variant that has vastly increased the risk of community transmission between nine other Southern African countries as well as the Seychelles and Mauritius, which both have strong travel links with South Africa.

“Urgent restrictions are therefore now needed to prevent the spread of this strain in the UK,” the government said.

Southern African countries affected by the ban

Due to the virulent spread of the new strain detected in South Africa, the UK added neighbouring countries and countries with which South Africa has strong ties to its travel ban. The revised ban now includes all countries in the Southern African block, and the Indian Ocean Island nations of Mauritius and Seychelles.

“Effective from 04:00 on January 9, entry into England will be banned to those who have travelled from or through any Southern African country in the last 10 days, including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Angola – as well as Seychelles and Mauritius.

“This does not include British and Irish nationals, longer-term visa holders and permanent residents who will be able to enter, but are required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival along with their household,” the government added.

The extended travel ban is expected to be in place for a period of two weeks while the UK determines other ways to handle the risk posed by visitors from Southern Africa.  All travellers entering the UK are also required to present a passenger locator form on arrival.