Excellent news came out yesterday (Tuesday the 14th of December) when Grant Shapps announced that the red list is emptied as of 4 am on Wednesday the 15th of December. Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, announced this news on Twitter and it was later confirmed by Sajid Javid in the House of Commons.

After they were placed on the red list due to the spread of the Omicron Covid variant on November 26th, the 11 African countries will now follow the same restrictions as non-red list countries again. These 11 countries are: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Nigeria was added to the red list on December 1st.

This comes shortly after Sajid Javid, the UK Health Secretary, discussed the red list and stated that the continued spread of the Omicron variant has made the use of the red list unnecessary for these African countries.

Many in the African tourism industry have expressed great excitement for travel to these great destinations to resume again. Adding these countries to the red list came just as some of these destinations were getting ready to welcome tourists once again and this rocked consumer confidence for a time (as always, we advise all consumers keep an eye on the Foreign Travel Advice page to check the current restrictions for entering these lovely destinations before you book).

Consumers who were under 10-day hotel quarantine in the UK as of 4 am Wednesday morning were also allowed to end their quarantine early in reaction to this. It has been said that consumers who have booked hotel quarantine for after Wednesday the 15th of December are also entitled to a full refund.

Grant Shapps also announced that, though the current travel testing measures are not going to be changed, they will be reviewed in the first week of January. “As always, we keep all our travel measures under review and we may impose new restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health,” Shapps said.

Sajid Javid also discussed this in the House of Commons on Tuesday, “We won’t keep measures in place for a moment longer than we need to. Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK, 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,” Javid said.

“So, I can announce today that while we will maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4 am tomorrow morning.”

Though this is not the news we were expecting after Sajid Javid spoke last week about the removal of testing requirements, the fact that the red list is emptied and the promise of a testing review in early January is still fantastic news.

The current testing restrictions for all UK entries regardless of vaccination status are as follows:

  • All travellers entering the UK must take a pre-departure test within 24 hours of returning to the UK.
  • All travellers entering the UK must take a PCR test on or before day-2 of arrival back in the UK and self-isolate at home until they receive a negative result, the day of arrival is day-0 (you can find out more about the current day-2 PCR restrictions in our article).

Grant Shapps also mentioned that he suspects several destinations will make the booster Covid jab mandatory for entry at some point in 2022 after discussing this with fellow Transport Secretaries.

So, if you’re looking forward to booking your next great holiday, don’t forget to get in touch with a travel business registered with PTS providing 100% financial protection and peace of mind through trust. Or, if you’d like assistance choosing one of our lovely PTS members to book with, you can contact PTS directly at 0207 190 9988.

And if you’d like to learn more about your consumer protection with PTS or how the Package Travel Regulations protect your holiday booking, check out our pages.

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