- South Africa remains on the UK's so-called red list, which bars its citizens from travelling to the country.
- Officials are now in talks with the UK government to have SA removed from the list.
- With Covid-19 infections decreasing, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor believes SA should not feature on the list.
A steady decrease in Covid-19 infections, more people getting vaccinated, and the successful hosting of the British and Irish Lions tour.
These are the main reasons why International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor believes South Africa should be removed from the United Kingdom (UK) red list of countries, whose citizens may not travel to the UK.
"Plans are being finalised for government to significantly increase its lobbying efforts to ensure that South Africa is removed from the UK's red list soonest," she said.
The UK's traffic light system categorises countries according to their respective Covid-19 risks.
Travellers from countries on the UK's green list can travel freely, while those from amber list countries are allowed to enter on the condition that they quarantine for 10 days if they've not been fully vaccinated.
Travellers from red list countries are banned from entering the UK, unless they're British or Irish nationals or have residence rights.
In response to a written parliamentary question from IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa, Pandor said her department is in talks with the UK and the Northern Ireland government.
She said the government had launched an extensive public awareness campaign on the Covid-19 virus and has taken all necessary precautions to prevent the virus from spreading.
Another aspect the UK government should consider is South Africa's continuous monitoring of Covid-19 infections and easily accessible testing sites.
"Statistics indicate that Covid-19 figures have decreased steadily. The South African government has now downgraded the country to level 3 lockdown due to encouraging statistics. Restrictions are consequently relaxed. South Africa has recently successfully hosted the British and Irish Lions tour where all Covid-19 protocols were observed," she said.
Pandor said the red list travel notice had placed heavy restrictions on South Africans wanting to travel to the UK.
"South Africa being placed on the red list has caused distress to many South Africans living in the UK who are unable to attend funerals of loved ones in South Africa, as well as visit sick family members due to punitive costs of mandatory quarantine they would bear on their return to the UK. The travel restrictions on travellers from South Africa has also severely impacted trade and tourism between South Africa and the UK," she said.
Pandor also said in her most recent meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, they agreed to continue collaboration on how best to deal with this scourge.
"South Africa's Covid-19 response remains a government-wide intervention. In this regard, Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and I are conscious that the UK is South Africa's number one source of long-haul tourism in the world, a position it has not relinquished for the past 18 years.
"The travel restrictions on British passport holders during the lockdown and subsequent period have caused the numbers of British tourists to SA to reduce drastically for the year 2020 and the first half of 2021, which has negatively impacted the tourism sector," she said.
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