Namibia on red list over slow vaccine roll-out

UK refuses to budge on country classification

08 October 2021 | Tourism

ELLLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

Ahead of an update to the United Kingdom’s travel red list, expected late yesterday or today, it has said Namibia was placed on this list based on the risk to public health and our slow vaccine roll-out.

The UK department of transport said this in response to an open letter sent to prime minister Boris Johnson and other top government officials by the Namibia Travel and Tourism Forum (NTTF), requesting that Namibia be reclassified as a safe destination for tourism.

Despite that country recently scrapping its traffic light system in an overhaul of its Covid-19 travel restrictions, Namibia has remained on the red list of countries from which arrivals must undergo a hotel quarantine.

The transport department said they recognise including countries on the red list has been difficult for many, but stressed that these measures are of national importance.

“We must limit imported cases by strengthening our borders to prevent the spread of Covid-19 into the UK in order to save lives, protect our national health service and the vaccination programme.”

The department explained that the UK’s Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) produces objective risk assessments of countries and territories.

A country’s vaccination status is considered in the risk assessment, but the JBC mainly looks at the outcome of vaccination programmes, such as reduced levels of infection including variants of concern.

“Countries with high levels of vaccination but with sustained high levels of infection would be of concern.”

Reviewed every three weeks

The department further said countries on the red list are reviewed every three weeks.

“Moving forward, the government will further review the UK’s international travel policy early in the new year to provide further certainty for the spring and summer 2022 seasons.”

Arrivals from red list countries are still required to pay for 10 days of hotel quarantine.

Scrap it

Meanwhile, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has called on the UK to scrap the red list completely.

The body argued that the recovery of the sector has been hampered by the lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions and slower vaccination rates in some parts of the world.

“The UK prime minister has an opportunity to help revive the sector faster by removing the UK red list policy and enabling stress-free international travel for those fully-vaccinated,” Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said.

The UK is one of Namibia’s top tourist markets. The arrival figures have, however, dropped significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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