Earlier this month, the UK introduced new travel restrictions over fears of the Omicron variant, forcing many travelers to cancel their Christmas travel plans.
However, now the UK’s Health Secretary says the restrictions could end soon if Omicron becomes the dominant strain in the UK.
UK Travel Restrictions May End Soon
To prevent importing cases of the variant, the UK added a pre-departure test to its list of entry requirements once more, along with adding several African countries to its red list.
The policy change went into effect on Tuesday, December 7th, and applies to all travelers above 12.
However, speaking yesterday Health Secretary Sajid Javid provided a glimmer of hope for travel, saying the new rules could end very soon.
Javid was asked if members of the public should be worried about booking holidays abroad in the coming months or if more countries will be added to the red list.
In his response, he suggested that travel restrictions could be scrapped if Omicron becomes the dominant variant.
“It is just not possible to give a guarantee for any particular country that there will not potentially be any future measures.
“Very soon, in the days and weeks that lie ahead, if, as I think is likely, we see many more infections and this variant becomes the dominant variant, there will be less need to have any kind of travel restrictions at all.”
The changes in travel restrictions were only put in temporarily and are set to be reviewed on December 20th to ensure that they are still necessary and proportionate.
More Countries Are Removing Omicron Restrictions
As more information about the Omicron variant is discovered, it is not just the UK that is considering removing recently added travel restrictions.
The US is also considering lifting the Africa travel ban as preliminary research shows that the Omicron variant is not more severe.
“Thus far, though it’s too early to really make any definitive statements about it, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said, in regards to the ongoing investigation into the Omicron variant.
Cambodia has removed its ban on travelers from 10 African countries after a nearly one-week suspension due to the Omicron variant.
Travel Bans Have Been Widely Criticized
The World Health Organization has widely criticized the travel bans as attacking global solidarity and failing to stop Omicron, which has now been detected in countries across the globe.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the travel restrictions on African countries are “unfair.”
“The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available to them, nor should they be collectively punished for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world,” Guterres said.
Nigeria has also criticized the UK’s travel restrictions after being placed on the red list.
“What is expected is a global approach, not selective,” said Sarafa Tunji Isola, Nigeria’s high commissioner to the UK.
He also echoed comments made by the UN’s chief, who described restrictions imposed on some southern African countries as “travel apartheid.”
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories