Travel between the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa will remain restricted after the UK kept South Africa on its red list of countries.
Travellers from red list countries are banned from entering the UK.
The UK revised the list on Friday, removing eight countries – but South Africa was kept on, meaning travellers from the country are banned from entering the UK.
Egypt, Kenya, Bangladesh, Turkey, Pakistan, Oman, Maldives and Sri Lanka were taken off the list.
The UK has until now used a traffic light system to rank countries according to the Covid-19 risk each nation might pose.
Travellers from the green list could travel freely, while those on the amber list were required to quarantine for 10 days if they are not fully vaccinated.
The UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday said the amber and green lists will be scrapped from 4 October, leaving a single red list. He added that the red list will remain, but it has been downsized.
Trade and tourism
The travel restrictions have severely impacted trade and tourism between South Africa and the UK.
At least 450,000 British passport holders travel to the country per year.
Inbound travel body, the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), said more 1.5 million local livelihoods are at risk if the restrictions continues. The World Travel and Tourism Council also warned that South Africa’s economy stands to lose R181 million a week if it remains on the red list.
On 5 August, Satsa started a petition to convince UK authorities to move South Africa to the amber list. The British government, however, said that South Africa would be kept on the red list because “it is considered a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern”.
‘A kick in the teeth’
Satsa labelled the decision on Friday “a kick in the teeth for 1.5 million South African tourism workers” and called on more people to sign its petition.
Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), was also critical of the UK’s decision, calling it “really unscientific”.
“Many European countries allow travel from South Africa… we have a smaller number of infections than the UK, similar variant dominating, advanced genomic surveillance, and transparency on science and policy. So why this discrimination?” he added.