UK TO SCRAP TRAVEL RED LIST FROM WEDNESDAY
The UK government has confirmed that the red list for foreign travel would be abolished.
The move, announced today in the House of Commons by health secretary Sajid Javid, is in reaction to the fast worldwide spread of the omicron coronavirus type, which the government acknowledge has rendered the most stringent travel restrictions unnecessary.
From 4 a.m. on December 15, the 11 African countries now labelled as “high risk” by the Department of Transport will be removed from the red list.
Mr Javid stated, “Now that there is communal transmission, the trip red is less effective.”
However, the previously stated testing standards will remain in effect.
“All present testing measures remain in place and will be reassessed in the first week of January,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted.
“As always, we will keep all of our travel restrictions under review and may impose more limitations if necessary to safeguard public health.”
Depending on whether arrivals to the UK are fully vaccinated or not, testing requirements differ: the former must present a negative lateral flow test before departure and schedule a PCR test within two days of entering the country, while the latter must schedule a day eight PCR test and stay in quarantine for ten days.
Between November 29 and December 4, a total of 11 African countries, including South Africa and Nigeria, were added to the UK’s previously empty red list, with returning tourists being warned that hotel quarantine in the UK would cost thousands of pounds.
This time around, South Africa and nine other nations, including safari hotspots Botswana and Namibia, were only on the red list for 16 days.
“I truly hope the government isn’t expecting any appreciation for this,” says Africa guide Paul Goldstein.
“They have single-handedly decimated the Christmas/New Year market for most of Africa, as well as gutted faith in the tourism business in the United Kingdom.”
Many people who visited red-list nations during the few weeks before being placed back on the list are currently in the middle of their 10-day hotel isolation period.
“At the very least, we should be permitted out on receipt of a negative day eight test,” Louise Hemus Fox, who is now under hotel quarantine at the Gatwick Sofitel, told The Independent. On day 10, I won’t have to wait here till midnight.