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The UK Says New Travel Restrictions May Be Removed ‘Very Soon’

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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 Says Travel Restrictions Could Be Removed 'Very Soon'

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.

woman in london uk by bus

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.”

UK Adds Testing Requirement For All International Arrivals

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.

Many other countries in the EU have implemented travel restrictions over Omicron, including France, Portugal, and Italy.

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.

plane flying in air

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.

U.S. Officials Re-Evaluating Africa Travel Ban And Hope To Lift It Soon

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.”

Rearview shot of an unrecognizable young woman looking at an arrivals and departures board while standing in an airport

“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.

Canada is facing mounting global pressure to reverse its new border rules that are widely seen as discriminatory and unscientific for their ban on foreign visitors from 10 African countries.

Canada Considers Ban On Outbound International Travel

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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