We know Boris Johnson was a busy bee this week. Hell, if you’re getting tax hikes on the UK public, it’s fair to assume his schedule is hectic. However, both he and the UK government need to show urgency on a matter that affects many South Africans. Yes, this is about the “red list” for travel.
What is the red travel list?
The tour guide in Blighty is divided into three levels; green, amber and red. Countries on the green and yellow lists generally enjoy lighter travel restrictions as long as correct testing procedures are followed. It is even less stressful to visit many of these places if you are vaccinated as well. However, the Red List contains a number of serious deterrents.
Travelers from South Africa entering the UK must be quarantined in state-run hotels for long periods of time. The stays are gloomy, the isolation brutal and there is no room for negotiations.
Anyone who has to travel from Mzansi to the British Isles has to endure this ordeal – and that costs them thousands. For an overwhelming majority, an impossible question.
How did South Africa end up on the UK red list?
Late last year, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock managed to put his scandalous affair aside for a moment so that he could grapple with a significant Mzansi problem. When a resurgence of COVID-19 hit both the UK and South Africa, new variants were found in the two countries. Inevitably, a common set of travel restrictions was drawn up.
The alpha and beta variants fueled second waves, but both fizzled in March as tougher locks brought the virus back under control. Just when things were looking promising, our respective nations were delta blows …
This time the British were able to weather another wave thanks to their fast vaccination program. South Africa lagged behind, and indeed another tough lockdown was needed to curb soaring infection rates. But with 25% of the population now fully vaccinated on our shores, we are doing a good job catching up.
What Makes South Africa’s Place on the UK Red List So Goofy? Ice, where do I start …
Why it doesn’t make sense to keep South Africa on the red list
Today SA recorded a total of 5,372 new COVID-19 cases. For comparison, the UK recorded 37,489 new cases. That alone should underline the madness of our stay on the red travel list. But wait, there’s more.
If this whole “Red List” of South Africa was determined by the existence of “different variants”, then that should be enough to end this whole farce now. Delta has been the dominant variant of COVID-19 in BOTH countries since June. Therefore, it is very, very unlikely that travelers in South Africa will get sick with any other stress.
Some of the concerns about variation are simple … well, to use a British term … they are stupid. No mutation discovered so far is able to circumvent the neutralizing properties of the vaccine. With Delta, the effectiveness of preventing transmission has diminished, but COVID-19 vaccinations are still excellent at keeping those vaccinated from serious illness and death.
Even with the C.1.2 variant spotted in South Africa last month … it turns out the little bastard was now not worth the panic caused by online doom mongers and select “professors” who are theirs Put newly found relevance above facts.
(If you know, you know …)
The goal posts have changed but Britain is not playing fair
In addition, SA’s vaccination program is flourishing. Hundreds of thousands of syringes are administered here every day. We have never had it this good and this data should give DIRCO a real ‘shot in the arm’ – as Secretary Naledi Pandor continues to press the UK government to change our status to amber instead.
A quarter of South African adults are fully vaccinated, with protection for the elderly and clinically vulnerable. This country is safer for travelers than it was a few months ago – and yes, you can include case numbers as well.
With just over 5,000 reports per day in Mzansi, this is less than several OTHER countries on the Amber List.
Iran, Malaysia, Vietnam and Russia are some of the great examples. And what about India? This is still on the yellow list, although more new virus cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours than in Great Britain itself. Little old South Africa meanwhile has no insight – and even the Eineins in the Conservative cabinet should be able to see the problem here.
Thousands of South Africans cannot see their family members
To sum up, asking Johnson and his cronies to consider a compassionate side of the argument might be terribly naive – but it’s worth a try nonetheless. Great Britain and South Africa are inextricably linked. Our cultures and our common values are mutually mirrored. That is why so many families are divided between the two nations despite the 6,000-mile distance.
Not everyone who travels abroad is a vacationer. These restrictions prevent families from banding together at a time when support and reassurance are most needed. The pandemic was the cruelest of all dividing lines dividing relatives and friends – but the UK’s draconian travel rules certainly come close.
The red list is therefore unsuitable. South Africa does not have to be marginalized. It is time to face the facts, let up a bit, and change your tact. Otherwise, I’m afraid we’ll have to get really tough with Great Britain …
If they don’t stick to it, SA should just stop sending their best wines and cricketers to the gray little island.
That will show them.