The UK maintains a travel ban on Kenya during the tourist season

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The UK maintains a travel ban on Kenya during the tourist season

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Tourists watch wildebeest cross the Mara River in the world famous Masai Mara Game Reserve in 2016. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Travelers from Kenya remain banned from the UK in the latest update, which went into effect Thursday evening, marking a new blow to tourism that is currently in peak season.

The UK has updated the countries on England’s Red List due to concerns about the spread of new Covid-19 variants that have now been reported in Kenya.

The UK has kept Kenya, whose cases of Covid-19 have increased by double digits, with the travel ban first imposed in April.

The decision hits a new blow for the Kenyan hospitality industry, whose tourist season traditionally peaks from July to September, coinciding with the country’s dry season and the world-famous wildebeest and zebra migration through the Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Kenya is a popular travel destination for the British. The UK is a top source market for tourism for Kenya. In 2019, it took fourth place in the ranking with 181,484 tourist visits.

The UK has divided countries into green, yellow and red lists, each with different restrictions on returning to the UK.

A UK citizen traveling off a green and yellow list is not required to undergo mandatory quarantine.

Travelers entering the UK from Red List countries will be refused entry, while returning Brits will have to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine in hotels.

Kenya had earlier protested the ban and eased penalties for British citizens who required them to remain in isolation for 14 days before entering the country.

Kenya had 232,869 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 4,635 deaths with a positivity rate of 12.9 percent on Thursday.

UK High Commissioner for Kenya Jane Mariott Howe recently called on Nairobi to ensure rapid vaccination across the country, a move that would lead to the ban being lifted.

She noted that the UK government is frequently reviewing the list, linking the removal of India, which had many infections, to increased vaccination.

“We check the list too often and hope that Kenya will be removed from the list soon. The more vaccines we have, the more genome sequencing we have, the easier it is to get off the red list, and that’s why India had an advantage, “she said.

Kenya received 880,460 doses of Moderna vaccines Monday to give another boost to the ongoing vaccination campaign, which aims to vaccinate 10 million people by the end of the year.

The Moderna cans donated by the US government are the second vaccine in the Kenyan program after AstraZeneca. As of August 22, at least 1,615,687 people had received at least one vaccination and 780,377 had been fully vaccinated.

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