Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
4 minute read
10 Sep 2021
3:14 pm

SA to UK: A travel influencer’s guide to UK Covid travel protocols

Kaunda Selisho

After a recent trip to the UK from South Africa, lifestyle and travel influencer Naledi Radebe broke down UK to SA Covid travel protocols.

As more and more South Africans become eligible for vaccines, vaccinated travellers are looking into what Covid-travel options they have available. Picture: Supplied

When the coronavirus first became a global problem, a number of people seemed to believe the pandemic would end sooner rather than later.

However, as the world comes to terms with the fact that the pandemic will last longer than we thought it would, more and more people are welcoming the idea of Covid travel. 

When the pandemic first hit, everything shut down and leisure travel all but came to an abrupt end. It is now clear that there is no end in sight so instead of waiting until the pandemic ends to travel, many people have opted to take up Covid travel which involves a lot of steps, checks and requirements.

Although this has made travel significantly more expensive, it has not completely deterred those with immense wanderlust from visiting new countries and locations.

This is the case with lifestyle and travel influencer Naledi “Leddi G” Radebe who has visited a number of countries since travel restrictions were eased. 

Radebe is often bombarded with questions about her travels and decided to do what seems like the first in a series of Covid travel explainers. 

How to travel to the United Kingdom (UK) from South Africa under lockdown:

Radebe travelled to England in August of this year and detailed what she had to go through just to reach her destination.

South African passport holders need visas to enter the UK and according to Radebe, it is better when you already have one as opposed to applying for a new one. 

“If you don’t already have the visa, don’t even bother because getting one is subject to the [country’s] embassy/consulate being open and printing tourist visas.” 

“A lot of European consulates are unlikely to be open for tourism at the moment,” she added. 

When it comes to the cost of the trip, Radebe didn’t provide exact fees but stated that Covid travel to the UK would be “an expensive exercise”.

This is because you would have to book two sets of flights and organise accommodation in at least two countries. She estimated a 10-day airport hotel stay in the UK at about R40,000 (£2,000). 

“You will lose at least 10-12 days in the transit phase before you even arrive at your destination,” wrote Radebe.

This is because of all the quarantining you will need to do for between five and 10 days “prior to arriving in every country and leaving every country”.

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You will also need to pay for Covid tests, the results of which can not be any older than 72 hours when entering each destination. 

These requirements apply to all visitors but especially to South Africans who, at the time of writing, were travelling from a location on the UK’s red list. This essentially means that UK officials view South Africa as a high-risk location due to the current Covid infection rates. 

Radebe mentioned making Covid travel to the UK easier by passing through a country on the amber (orange) list first as this would allow “immediate” entry from SA. 

“Many African countries are on the list. I decided to go through Ghana. Firstly because I am very familiar with and love Ghana. Secondly, because Ghana gives a visa on arrival (R2111,86/$150) with generally no hassle.” 

She added that you will need to take a Covid test at the airport in Ghana at an additional cost of R2111,8 ($150). 

“You need to stay in the amber country for 10 days… I took the scenic route and visited both Lagos [Nigeria] and Douala [Cameroon]. Both were amber list countries.” 

She added a note that South Africa is also on Nigeria’s red list so the country is currently not accepting any visitors directly from South Africa.

If you make it to the UK after this point, you will not only need to do a home quarantine for about 10 days but you will also need to pre-register on the UK government’s website to receive a mandatory self-testing kit at an additional cost. You will also need to fill out a passenger locator form that tracks your movements. 

During this period, you will be subject to regular check-ins which may incur hefty fines if you are not compliant with the requirements of the quarantine period.

You will still need to do all of this whether you are vaccinated or not.

Read Naledi’s full guide to Covid travel to the UK from South Africa below:

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