Published: 22nd April 2021
What the FAQ: UK puts India on 'red list' due to COVID surge, what does it mean for people travelling to Britain now?
Here we try to answer all your questions surrounding the travel ban to the UK from India, what you should know and what it means for everyone
As COVID-19 cases reach a record high in India for the past few days with almost two to three lakh cases per day, several countries have put India on their travel ban list. Among those the United Kingdom, as of now, has added India to the ‘red list’ for COVID-19 travel and it has brought a lot of panic and distress to students and others travelling from India to the UK. Here, we try to explain what it means, and what should travellers know about moving between these two countries, how is it affecting students and more.
What is a travel ‘red list’?
The Red List is essentially a travel-ban list that discourages travel to and from certain banned countries. According to gov.uk, besides India as of now for the rising Coronavirus cases, there are 39 other countries on this list, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, the Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, the UAE and Zimbabwe, among others.
What does it mean for you if you travel to the UK now from India?
India is the latest country to be added to the red list. The mandate is that if you arrive in the UK from India before 4 am on April 23, you must self-isolate for 10 days in the place you’re staying and then take a COVID-19 test on days 2 and 8. Additionally, the gov.uk website also specifies that from 4 am on April 23, if you have been in India in the previous 10 days, you will only be allowed to enter the country if you are a British, Irish or third-country national with residency rights. You will need to quarantine in a hotel set up by the government.
Why did India make it to the red list?
According to a BBC report, UK health secretary Matt Hancock stated that there had been “103 UK cases of the India variant”. He said the vast majority of the cases of the new variant — officially known as B.1.617 — had been linked to “international travel”, and added test samples had been “analysed to see if the new variant had any concerning characteristics”, such as greater transmissibility or resistance to treatments and vaccines. “After studying the data, and on a precautionary basis, we’ve made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list,” he added. The UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also tweeted the move was made to ensure the UK did not lose its “hard-won progress on the vaccine rollout”.
Are there flights from India to the UK now?
News reports state that UK flight tickets from India have rocketed from £400 for an economy seat to £2,000, since families have started to rush, in order to avoid the travel ban. While at present, there are a few flights from India — from cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad — to the UK, every day, after India’s India’s addition to the travel ban list, the number of direct flights may drop. Airlines operating flights currently are British Airways, Vistara and Air India, news reports suggest.
What does it mean for Indian students?
According to The PIE News, the Home Office has confirmed that international students from India are exempt from this travel ban. Indian students coming to the UK must have a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), a document issued by the Home Office to confirm that holders can live and study in the UK. This means students can enter the country so long as they follow quarantine requirements set by the government. "Indian students holding a student visa or a Tier 4 visa have residence rights in the UK, therefore the travel ban does not apply to them. However, they will be expected to complete a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense as per the UK government guidelines," British Council South India director Janaka Pushpanathan told the news organisation. "It is important to note that the rules are different for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so students need to check in advance of travelling to those locations."