Dec 15, 2021: Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament that the British government would remove all 11 countries from its CoVID-19 Travel Red List from Wednesday as Omicron now has a community transmission in the country.
The new type of Omicron was first found in South Africa and Hong Kong. The British government added 11 African countries to its red list from the end of November, meaning that only British citizens or residents from those countries were allowed in and then had to be quarantined in a hotel.
“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,” Javid said.
“We will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4am tomorrow morning,” he added.
The 11 countries which will be removed are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Since the outbreak started, Britain has registered more than 4,700 cases of Omicron, with 10 people hospitalised, and one person has died after contracting the variant. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday Britain was facing a “huge spike” in Omicron cases.
Travel companies have called on the government to ease restrictions as soon as possible. London’s Heathrow Airport said last week it was looking at canceling high levels of business passengers due to concerns about sanctions. The UK will still require all arriving travelers to take a PCR test at most 48 hours before departure, a move that will be reviewed in the first week of January according to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.
Arrivals from the red list countries have had to pay thousands of pounds to quarantine in government-approved hotels. Many have complained on social media about the costs and conditions of their stay.
A lack of available rooms also left some people trapped abroad waiting for space to become available in the hotels.
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