As the new omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to pose a threat, the British government said it will be removing all the 11 countries from its COVID-19 travel red list from December 15, 2021. The decision has been taken as a community transmission of the omicron variant has been reported in Britain. The new variant was first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong after which the British government added 11 African countries to its red list from the month of November.
This would mean that only UK Citizens or residents arriving from those nations were allowed in and had to quarantine in a hotel. Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary said that there is a community transmission of the omicron variant in the United Kingdom due to which the travel red list is now less effective in slowing down the incoming of the omicron from abroad. Javid added that now all the 11 countries will be removed from the travel red list and will be effective from 4 a.m. on December 15, 2021.
The countries that are removed include Botswana, Angola, Malawi, Eswantini, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. On the other hand the travel companies had requested the government to bring down the restrictions as soon as possible. Heathrow Airport London had last week said that it saw high levels of business travellers cancelling their trips due to the restrictions. However, Britain will still require all the inbound travelers to take a PCR test a maximum of 48 hours before departure.
Chief executive of travel association ABTA, Mark Tanzer supported the removal of the travel red list but added that the testing should have been scrapped. Tanzer added that as the Christmas and New Year approaches, the consumer confidence in travel suffers a setback and will outlast such restrictions. People who arrived from the red list countries had to pay thousands of pounds to quarantine at the government approved hotels.
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