Britons in South Africa racing to avoid £2,285 hotel quarantine amid fears over Omicron variant
Written by Sky News UK on November 27, 2021
The cost of quarantine for Britons returning from South Africa is setting some back “a year” financially, as people race back to avoid the costs.
After the emergence of the Omicron variant, a number of countries in southern Africa were placed back on England’s travel red list.
It means that an adult arriving in England needs to spend at least £2,285 for a hotel room for 10 days to quarantine.
Matters have been further complicated after direct flights from South Africa to the UK were stopped by the British government.
However, there is a brief window for those arriving before 4am on Sunday to quarantine at home if they can find a route.
Lavern Fugeti is a dual UK and South African citizen who is currently staying in the cape nation.
She was unable to travel there for the funeral of her sister earlier this year due to the previous lockdown, but is now visiting.
She told Sky News about the difficulties now facing those in South Africa, with flights being cancelled and a lack of information.
“I’ve got no idea [what’s happening],” she said.
“Up until six o’clock last night my flight was scheduled to depart on time tonight.
“And then I received a text message to say it has now been cancelled.”
Red list countries
- South Africa
Ms Fugeti, who is in the country with her toddler, has been trying to coordinate with her husband in the UK to sort out a plan to get her home.
But the cost of the hotel stay is a steep sudden expenditure – considering flights to South Africa are already dear.
“It’s going to set us back for probably a year,” Ms Fugeti said.
“There wasn’t a lot of information… everyone was falling over their feet because it came out of nowhere.”
Some scientists say the flight ban is too little too late, with evidence the variant has already left southern Africa – with cases identified in Hong Kong and Europe.
The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday to discuss ways to reopen travel.
Other countries with travel bans include the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the EU, the UAE, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
With flights being cancelled and blocked, even returning to the UK to quarantine at a hotel is becoming an increasingly difficult task.
Che de Haaf told Sky News she was trying to organise a return to the UK via Zanzibar.
“That seems to be the only country that I can possibly get back from without paying the £2,285 the UK is demanding for quarantine,” she said.
Bronwen Cook was also trying to beat the 4am on Sunday deadline to save her money.
She said: “I was happy to see my family but I want to go home to my husband and kids now.”