The United Kingdom (UK) government is expected to make an important announcement on its travel ban on South Africa, on Tuesday.
UPDATE: The UK has officially emptied the controversial red list, according to Financial Times editor Sebastian Payne. Eased UK entry requirements are expected to go into effect at 04:00 on Wednesday 15 December 2021.
🚨 NEW: U.K. empties the red list— Sebastian Payne (@SebastianEPayne) December 14, 2021
Whitehall officials confirm the 11 countries (including South Africa) will be removed from 4am tomorrow. Covid-O meeting happening imminently
Ministers accept spread of omicron means restrictions are “pointless” https://t.co/VxRUKGn5pS
Is the UK lifting the travel ban on South Africa?
As reported by The Telegraph, the British government is poised to reconsider its harsh red list policy that restricts travel access from countries deemed to be no-go zones due to high COVID-19 cases.
South Africa fell victim to the controversial travel policy for the second time on Friday 26 November 2021, triggering global backlash from the world’s leading scientists, including high-ranking officials of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
At the time, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet had made the call as a necessary measure to avoid the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK. However, as it came to be discovered weeks later, the super transmissive variant had been long-spreading in the developed world, before South Africa’s groundbreaking sequencing models detected it.
Now, with the Omicron variant on course to become the most prevalent in the UK, Johnson may be forced to reconsider the efficacy of the red list.
Optimism on the latter was increased by Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s comments at a recent assembly sitting where he stated that the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK has minimised justification for the ‘draconian’-like travel rules.
Before Tuesday, UK citizens and permanent residency holders were allowed to travel back home from red list countries, on the condition that they undergo rapid PCR testing and a mandatory 1-day hotel quarantine that blew a hole as deep as R50 000 into their pockets.
However, this absorbent price to pay may be scrapped this week, with the British government ready to look at alternative methods of controlling entry into the uK.
Responding to questions about the necessity of the red list policy, Javid said:
“It’s something that I’ve already raised with my colleagues in the Department for Transport and I do hope that we can act quickly.”