UK's red list to be scrapped – reports

Business Insider SA
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
  • The UK could scrap the dreaded red list, which is meant to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
  • The UK government says the red list has not slowed the spread of the Omicron variant.
  • This possible move comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa sharply criticised new Covid-19 travel restrictions.
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The United Kingdom’s much-criticised “red list”, which bans visitors from countries it deems to have a high risk associated with Covid-19, could soon become a thing of the past.

This is according to several reports in the UK, which say the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is prepared to do away with mandatory 10-day stays in so-called quarantine hotels for citizens and residents returning from South Africa, while other travellers from this country are banned.

The red list is supposed to slow the spread of the newly discovered Omicron variant of  the virus, but now according to Bloomberg, the UK government has admitted that given the wide spread of this variant, keeping the red list would not slow the spread.

The red list has long been criticised as not only being ineffective at slowing the spread of the virus, but also for being onerous.   

People returning from South Africa and other countries on the red list are not only forced to stay in these quarantine hotels, but also are required to pay £2,285 (about R50,000) per person for their stay.

Aside from these personal costs, the red list has also harmed local businesses, with the World Travel Council saying in August that it cost SA R2.4 billion.

SA was initially removed from the list in early October, after much lobbying from organised business and a subsequent phone call between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Johnson on the matter.

But only weeks after Ramaphosa and Johnson had agreed that such issues should be “informed by science”, the UK government again put SA on the red list with the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Ramaphosa is not happy with the way other countries - including the UK - were quick to impose travel restrictions on SA, after local scientists were the first to announce the discovery of this variant.

On 28 November, in an address to the nation, Ramaphosa said: “There is no scientific justification for keeping these restrictions in place.”

(Compiled by Larry Claasen)

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