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UK Removes 11 African Countries from Red List

Wed 15 Dec 2021 | 09:31 AM
Ahmad El-Assasy

The UK government announced on Wednesday that it will remove 11 African nations from its travel blacklist: Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Following the discovery of the Omicron strain in November, the United Kingdom added these countries to its travel blacklist. It has put a halt on the issuing of visitor visas to Nigerians who want to visit the UK.

"Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so broadly across the world, the travel red list is less effective in preventing the incursion of Omicron from abroad," Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament, explaining why the ban is being repealed.

"While we will keep our temporary testing methods in place for foreign travel, all 11 nations will be removed from the travel red list as of 4 a.m. tomorrow," he stated.

Currently, all red-list visitors to the UK must pay for and self-isolate for 10 days at a pre-booked, government-approved hotel.

They must also take Covid tests 48 hours before leaving for the UK and PCR tests two days after arriving.

Some newcomers have already paid thousands of pounds to remain in government-approved quarantine hotels, where they have complained of disorganised service and inedible food.

Javid stated that he had sought immediate advice on whether people in controlled quarantine might leave early.

He also stated that calls for reimbursement had "quite encouraged" him, and that he wanted to make an announcement shortly.

The idea has sparked outrage in African countries, with the United Nations dubbing the prohibition on non-UK residents entering England "travel apartheid."

The travel industry has also expressed concern about the limitations, claiming that they were hurting commerce.

Emptying the red list made "perfect sense," according to Tim Alderslade, president of trade association Airlines UK, but the government should also eliminate pre-departure and day two tests for all arrivals.

"If the red list isn't essential now that Omicron has established itself here at home," he said, "then neither are the costly emergency testing and isolation procedures placed on even fully vaccinated travellers, which again puts us at odds with the rest of Europe."

These testing measures will be evaluated in the first week of January, according to Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps.