Why is the Helloworld (ASX:HLO) share price tumbling 6% on Friday?

A new variant of COVID-19 has spurred the UK to shut its borders to 6 nations

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The Helloworld Travel Ltd (ASX: HLO) share price is spiralling today amid the identification of a new COVID-19 variant.

At the time of writing, the Helloworld share price is $2.06 — 5.94% lower than its previous close.

For context, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is down 1.7% right now.

Let’s take a closer look at what we know of the variant so far.

What’s weighing on the Helloworld share price?

The Helloworld share price is suffering alongside its ASX 200 peers today as the UK Health Security Agency’s CEO Jenny Harries stated a new COVID-19 variant is “a clear reminder to everyone that this pandemic is not over”.

South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced it had documented the variant yesterday. The mutation has initially been named B.1.1.529.

The UK has slammed its borders shut to 6 African nations on the back of the discovery. It claimed several mutations, including a change in the virus’ protein spike, could make the variant resistant to vaccines, harder to treat, or easier to spread.  

The NICD stated that, as of yesterday, there have been 22 cases of B1.1.529 in South Africa.

Another 2 cases have been identified in Hong Kong. Authorities there believe it might have spread from a traveller arriving from South Africa. Cases have also been found in Botswana.

Travel between the UK and the 6 banned nations will resume once the UK’s hotel quarantine system is up and running.

When it is operational, travellers to the UK from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, or Namibia will need to pay for and complete a 10-day stint in hotel quarantine.

The Helloworld share price isn’t alone in its suffering today.

The Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB) and Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT) share prices have fallen 4.8% and 5.9% respectively.

What’s going on with Australia’s borders?

According to reporting by News.com.au, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told a press conference this morning Australia’s border restrictions won’t be changing. The publication quoted Hunt as saying:

If the medical advice is that we need to change [border restrictions], we won’t hesitate…

At this point in time, there’s very little traffic directly between South Africa and Australia.

We also happen to be very, very highly vaccinated now… that’s a very different position from [where we were] when the Delta variant emerged in India

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Motley Fool contributor Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and has recommended Helloworld Limited. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Helloworld Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Flight Centre Travel Group Limited and Webjet Ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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