On Friday, the United Kingdom released their updated International travel rules with regard to Covid-19.
The release of the list has revealed that South Africa has remained on the UK’s Red List, having possible implications for the tourism sector.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has also expressed its puzzlement at the decision. Minister Naledi Pandor said, “We firmly believe there is no reasonable basis for keeping South Africa on the Red list and I am very disappointed.”
The department has vowed to intensify efforts to ensure that South Africa is removed from the UK’s red list. In a statement released by the department, Minister Pandor says she is “optimistic that the Government of the UK will finally realise that their decision is not harming just the tourism industry but other businesses from both countries."
This is a blow to the South African tourism industry as the restrictions placed on ‘red list countries can negatively impact travel. The rules apply to you if you have been in a red-listed country 10 days before arriving in England, even if you are vaccinated.
The current rules regarding red-list countries are as follows-
‘If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the last 10 days you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK’.
Before you travel to England you must:
- Take a Covid-19 test at least 3 days before you travel to England.
- Book a quarantine hotel package, including 2 COVID-19 tests.
- Complete a passenger locator form.
These rules come at an extra cost, which could discourage tourists from travelling to and from the UK.
CEO of Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa says the decision to keep South Africa on the red list may be more political than science-related.
He says South Africa has presented evidence that the beta variant of Covid-19 is no longer the dominant variant. He explains that the delta variant, which is the dominant variant in SA , is already present in the UK and the Covid-19 vaccines administered in the UK are effective against the delta variant.
Tshivhengwan said, “it's not based on anything and it does have an impact on the diplomatic relationship that we have with the UK, which I do believe that we need to look at and we need to review it because we can't have a situation whereby a country that we have ties with continues to put us you know on the red list after all these discussions”.