The UK to remove all countries from ‘red list’ just 16 days after it was reintroduced

Dec 14, 2021

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The U.K. will remove all 11 countries from its red list at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 15.

The British government brought back its red list in November in its effort to slow down the spread of the omicron variant sweeping the globe. The impending changes will come into effect just 16 days after the red list was reintroduced.

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According to the U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid, the countries were due to be removed this week as the omicron variant has now spread so far that the rules no longer served its purpose of COVID-19 prevention. 

Speaking to British Parliament, he said: “Now that there is community transmission of omicron in the U.K. 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.”

Adding: “Whilst we maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4 a.m. tomorrow morning.”

The red list was reintroduced on Nov. 29 by the British government and includes Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nambia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Related: Daily lateral flow testing for COVID-19 contacts launches in the UK

Prior to the changes on Dec. 15, any travelers arriving from red list countries face self-isolating in the U.K.’s quarantine hotels for up to 10 days at a cost of £2,285 ($3021.83). The high cost of which has been criticized throughout the pandemic. 

The U.K. Health Secretary said that he was seeking advice on whether those currently in hotel quarantine would be able to leave early now that the rules had changed. He also acknowledged that he was “very persuaded” by calls to reimburse people and was hopeful of an announcement soon.

Featured image by Hollie Adams/Getty Images. 

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