HARARE – Britain is to announce the removal of Zimbabwe and other South African countries from the so-called “red list” of destinations that prevent the region from generating tourism revenue.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will open up more countries to travel without hotel quarantine later this week by reducing the ‘red list’ of destinations from 54 to nine, the Sunday Telegraph has reported.
Placement on the ‘red list’ means that people in the UK are barred from traveling to all southern African countries. It also means that anyone travelling to the region from the UK will face a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon returning home, even if they have been fully vaccinated and tested negative for coronavirus.
The policy change will allow British tourists and fully vaccinated Zimbabweans living in the UK to return home for term later this month and the Christmas holidays without the financial penalty of a hotel quarantine.
Godfrey Koti, General Affairs Manager at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, said: “This is very good news. British tourists are the second largest contributor to our tourism revenue after the United States. We are happy to welcome you.”
The changes are due to be announced on Thursday and will likely result in increased bookings and a boost for airlines and travel companies that have been brought to their knees during the pandemic.
The UK’s hotel quarantine policy for high-risk countries costs £2,285 ($3,095) per adult, discouraging global travel.
Britain easing COVID-19 rules
The UK is already planning to ease its travel rules from October 4, scrapping its yellow list of medium-risk destinations and no longer requiring fully vaccinated passengers to take a COVID-19 test before departing from places unlisted are redlisted to enter the country.
The government has announced that from the end of October, newcomers to England will no longer need to take a PCR test two days after arrival and can opt for the cheaper lateral flow test instead.
There are currently 54 countries and territories on the red list, including all of mainland South America and southern Africa and a few other countries in Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.
The UK policy change means that fully vaccinated arrivals from countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia will no longer need to quarantine in a government-designated hotel.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that he had lobbied for Johnson to remove the country from the “red list”.
Ramaphosa said he “presented the case of South Africa” to the British Prime Minister “which he understood very well”.
“We hope for a positive outcome when the matter comes up for review by their scientists in the coming days,” Ramaphosa said.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that UK government officials have been reassured that the beta variant of coronavirus has “largely disappeared from South Africa”.
- Sunday Telegraph