The United Kingdom (UK) government has
announced that Nigeria and 10 other African countries would be removed from its travel red list from 4am tomorrow, Wednesday.
Other African countries to be removed from travel ban imposed on them over the outbreak of another strain of COVID-19 virus, Omicron, were Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It would be recalled that the red list was reintroduced in late November as a precaution after the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Speaking on the ban imposed on Nigeria and 10 others on Tuesday, Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said that it had spread so widely the rules no longer had much purpose.
“Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,” he told Parliament.
“Whilst we will maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel we will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4 am tomorrow morning,” he added.
As gathered, the lift of the travel ban does not cancel the COVID-19 guidelines set by the government for travellers including paying for and self-isolate in a pre-booked, government-approved hotel for 10 days.
Some travellers have already paid thousands of pounds to stay in government-approved quarantine hotels, and there have been complaints of chaotic organization and inedible food during their stays.
Javid disclosed that he had asked for urgent advice on whether those currently in managed quarantine would be able to leave early.
The health secretary also said he was “very persuaded” by calls to reimburse people and hoped to make an announcement soon.
The move to lift the travel ban followed anger from African countries, with the UN describing the ban on non-UK residents entering England as “travel apartheid”.
The travel industry had also warned the restrictions were hurting businesses especially after they were about getting back to normal after the lengthy lockdowns.
The head of trade group Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade, stated that emptying the red list made “complete sense” but that the government should also scrap the remaining travel restrictions.
Currently all arrivals, regardless of where they fly from, must take Covid tests within 48 hours of setting off for the UK and PCR tests within two days of their arrival.
“If the red list isn’t necessary, given that Omicron is established here at home, then neither are the costly emergency testing and isolation measures imposed on even fully vaccinated travellers, which again put us completely at odds with the rest of Europe,” he said.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said these testing measures would be reviewed in the first week of January.
“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,” he said on Twitter.