Travel bans are to be introduced for visitors from the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh, the Ministry of Transport said.
The countries were added to the so-called England Red List due to concerns about new Covid-19 variants, as first identified in South Africa and Brazil.
Starting Friday, April 9th at 4am, international visitors who have departed from or crossed the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh in the past 10 days will be denied entry to England.
Those returning to England are required to quarantine themselves in a government approved hotel for 10 days and take a Covid-19 test on the second and eighth days of their self-isolation.
Arrivals are not allowed to shorten their quarantine time regardless of their test results and cannot end them prematurely using the test-to-release scheme.
The measures are aimed at reducing the risk of new coronavirus variants – like the South African strain – said the DfT, based on recommendations from the government-funded Joint Biosecurity Center.
The data showed that the majority of the South Africa variant cases discovered so far in England have been linked to international travel and that very few are believed to have come from Europe, the department added.
The government does not prohibit flights from these four countries and British and Irish nationals, as well as UK residents, should use commercial routes if they want to return.
The DfT said: “The government has consistently made it clear that it will take decisive action to contain the virus if necessary and put these targets on the Red List in order to protect public health.”
The recent restrictions bring the total number of countries on the England Red List to 38.
Meanwhile, Malta has become the youngest country to announce that it will welcome the return of British tourists this summer – despite being on the UK red list, meaning unvaccinated travelers are banned from entering the country.
The small island nation in the Mediterranean said British travelers who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be allowed to enter from June 1.
According to the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), passengers must show their vaccination card before boarding. Typically around 500,000 British tourists visit Malta each year.
Tolene Van Der Merwe, UK and Ireland Director at MTA said: “Malta is a very popular destination for UK holidaymakers and is an important contributor to the Maltese economy. We are therefore excited to welcome back fully vaccinated UK travelers 1. June.
“The people of Malta look forward to the return of tourists who have loved our sunshine, culture, food and warm spirits year after year.”
Malta is the second largest country after the UK in terms of European countries that have vaccinated most of their population.
A number of other destinations popular with UK vacationers have announced plans to reopen their borders in the past few weeks.
Turkey expects to welcome UK vacationers without evidence of a vaccine or negative test once foreign vacation travel is allowed.
In Greece, international tourists must be vaccinated, have recently received a negative Covid-19 test or have coronavirus antibodies.
Visitors to Cyprus must have received both doses of the vaccine.
Overseas holidays in the UK are banned due to the coronavirus lockdown, but Boris Johnson will make an announcement on Monday of suspension restrictions.
The government’s Global Travel Taskforce will submit a report to the Prime Minister on April 12th that will include recommendations on how and when to resume foreign holidays.
According to England’s timetable for easing pandemic rules, May 17th is the earliest time overseas vacation travel could be permitted.
However, there is growing speculation that this date could be postponed as infections rise in parts of Europe.
Foreign escape destinations are to be classified under a traffic light system, with fewer restrictions tied to locations with the lowest coronavirus rates and high vaccination rates, it was reported.
Countries are classified as either green, amber, or red depending on how well they are coping with the pandemic.
The Times reported that travel to and from so-called Red List countries will be banned, although the Sun newspaper said those returning to the UK from such destinations will have to pay to stay in quarantined hotels, as is currently the case for the worst hit countries.
Both newspapers said that countries on the green list would be exempt from quarantine measures.
Any restrictions could put further pressure on the British to avoid international travel in favor of domestic vacations, as concerns about leaving the UK could increase the risk of introducing mutated strains of coronavirus.
Scientific experts have repeatedly said that summer stays this year should be encouraged over foreign holidays.
Dame Anne Johnson, a professor of epidemiology at University College London, said importing new variants of coronavirus was “one of the greatest risks” for the UK.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday, “This is a risk that you have a high infection rate. I am for stays.”