Wire Service
2 minute read
14 Dec 2021
5:26 pm

Travel ban: SA and 10 other African countries taken off UK red list


The UK's Health Minister Sajid Javid said the travel ban is "now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad".

. Image: iStock

The UK is to drop 11 African countries, including South Africa, from its “red list” barring incoming travel, ministers said on Tuesday.

From 0400 GMT on Wednesday, all will be removed from the list, said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The UK government had responded to the identification of the Omicron variant in South Africa by banning travel from 10 Southern African countries and Nigeria.

Currently, only people who are British or Irish citizens or have UK residence rights can fly in from the red-listed countries, and they have to quarantine in hotels on arrival.

“As always, we keep all our travel measures under review and we may impose new restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health,” Shapps tweeted.

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Health Minister Sajid Javid also announced the measure to MPs in parliament as Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks their backing for his new restrictions to curb the spread of Omicron.

Javid said the travel ban was being lifted because it is “now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad”.

‘Knee-jerk reactions’

As other nations were banning travel to and from South Africa, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) cautioned the countries “not to engage in knee-jerk reactions”.

Dirco said new variants had been detected in other countries as well, with these cases showing “no recent links with southern Africa”. 

The department also said the reaction to other variants “is starkly different to cases in southern Africa”. 

“This latest round of travel bans is akin to punishing South Africa for its advanced genomic sequencing and the ability to detect new variants quicker.

“Excellent science should be applauded and not punished.”

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