From 4 a.m. on Wednesday, all 11 countries on the UK’s travel blacklist will be lifted, according to the government.
The countries on the list include Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
After the introduction of the Omicron strain in late November, the red list was reestablished as a precaution.
However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid claimed that the problem had become so widespread that the guidelines were no longer useful.
“Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has gone so extensively throughout the world,” he told Parliament, “the travel red list is less helpful in preventing Omicron intrusion from overseas.”
“While we will have our temporary testing methods in place for international travel, all 11 nations will be removed off the travel red list as of 4 a.m. tomorrow.”
All visitors to the UK from countries on the red list must pay for and self-isolate for ten days in a pre-booked, government-approved accommodation.
However, now that all 11 nations have been removed from the list, people under managed quarantine will be permitted to leave early and “follow the regulations as if they had arrived from a non-red list country.”
Some passengers spent hundreds of pounds to stay in government-approved quarantine hotels, but complained of disorganized service and inedible food.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Stephen Barclay, told the House of Commons that anyone who has tested positive will be kept in isolation.
Mr Javid previously stated that he was “extremely convinced” by requests for individuals to be reimbursed and that he wanted to make a declaration on the matter shortly.
The idea has sparked outrage in African countries, with the United Nations dubbing the prohibition on non-UK citizens visiting England “travel apartheid.”
The UK statement had “came just in time to allow relatives and friends to gather for the Christmas season,” according to South African Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
The travel sector has also expressed concern about the limitations, claiming that they were harming commerce.
The chairman of trade organization Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade, said that although removing the red list made “perfect sense,” the government should also remove the other travel restrictions.
Currently, all arrivals must do Covid tests within 48 hours of departing for the UK and PCR testing within two days of arrival, regardless of where they flew from.
“If the red list isn’t essential now that Omicron has established itself here at home,” he added, “then neither are the costly emergency testing and isolation procedures placed on even fully vaccinated travelers, which again puts us at odds with the rest of Europe.”
These testing measures will be evaluated in the first week of January, according to Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps.
“As always, we keep all of our travel controls under review,” he added on Twitter, “and we may impose more limitations if there is a need to do so to safeguard public health.”