South Africa has been removed from the United Kingdom’s “red list” after the British government reviewed its decision on travel restrictions against a number of countries.
This will be a big boost to the local tourism as revenues in the South African tourism sector largely rely on international travellers, with tourism spend by UK travellers remaining quite significant.
The UK government on Thursday confirmed that 47 countries and territories will be removed from its red list from 4am Monday.
It said that passengers returning to England from these destinations will no longer be required to enter hotel quarantine.
South Africa was one of 54 countries on the UK red list from which travellers arriving to the UK must enter a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own cost since January.
Last week, a meeting of scientists and advisers from both countries was held to conduct further research into the Beta variant that had so far created the perception that South Africa was the Covid-19 hotspot.
South Africa has also eased its lockdown restriction to their lowest after officially “exiting” the third wave of Covid-19 infections and the vaccination programme is being ramped up with weekend activations.
The UK government today said eligible travellers vaccinated in over 37 new countries and territories, including South Africa, will also be treated the same as returning fully vaccinated UK residents, so long as they have not visited a red list country or territory in the 10 days before arriving in England.
It said the continued progress on vaccination both at home and around the world meant the government can confidently reduce the size of the red list to focus on countries which pose the highest risk.
However, other passengers who are not fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine returning from a non-red destination must still take a pre-departure test, a day 2 and day 8 test and complete 10 days self-isolation.
According to Statistics SA data, 430 000 visitors from the UK travelled to South Africa in 2019 before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic compared to less than 150 000 in 2020.
UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said they were making it easier for travellers by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the red list, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe.
UK health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said fully vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries can now use lateral flow tests on day 2 of arrival, as long as they provide proof of use.
The UK government said the data for all countries and territories will be kept under review, and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country’s epidemiological picture changes.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE