UK 'red list': Ramaphosa hopeful for 'positive outcome' after call with Johnson

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Ramaphosa said he had put South Africa's case to Johnson during a call on Thursday.
Ramaphosa said he had put South Africa's case to Johnson during a call on Thursday.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa said he spoke to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the travel ban imposed on South Africa.
  • With decisions to be informed by science, Ramaphosa is hopeful that there will be a "positive outcome".
  • The ban severely affects South Africa's tourism industry.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has engaged with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the continued travel ban imposed on South Africa by that country.

Ramaphosa announced on Thursday evening that South Africa will move to adjusted alert level 1 of Covid-19 restrictions.

The Covid-19 Modelling Consortium noted earlier this week that the country had emerged from the third wave of Covid-19 infections.

Despite Covid-19 cases dropping from 20 000 a day at the peak of the third wave to about 1 800 per day, South Africa remains on the UK's so-called red list.

"This has put us in a disadvantaged position, since the United Kingdom is South Africa's biggest source of tourism from the northern hemisphere and a significant trading partner," Ramaphosa said.

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA, estimates that South Africa's tourism industry loses around R26 million every day that the country remains on the UK's red list, Fin24 previously reported.

Ramaphosa said he had put South Africa's case to Johnson during a call on Thursday. "Earlier today I had a call with [Johnson] to discuss this matter. I put South Africa's case to him, which he understood very well.

"We both agreed that decisions of this nature should be informed by science and are hopeful of a positive outcome when the issue comes up for review in the coming days," he said.

Ramaphosa noted that UK scientists are concerned about the presence of the Beta variant in South Africa. However, the Delta variant is now dominant in the country.

Ramaphosa urged South Africans to get vaccinated so that the country can be declared a "safe destination", which will benefit tourism in the summer season.

"If we can reach our vaccination targets by the end of this year, we can avoid further restrictions and kick our economic recovery into high gear," he said.

The Department of Health plans to roll out vaccination certificates as a secure and verifiable proof of vaccination.

"It can be used to facilitate travel, access to establishments ... gatherings and other forms of activity that require proof of vaccination status," said Ramaphosa.

"Streamlining and standardising proof of vaccination will also go a long way towards getting a number of international travel restrictions both from and into our country eased," he added.

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