- All 11 countries will be removed from the UK’s red list from 4am Wednesday 15 December as Omicron becomes the dominant strain around the world
- Pre-departure tests and PCR testing measures on or before day 2 after arrival remain in place, with a review of all travel measures in the New Year.
Following review of the latest risk assessment from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Nigeria and the other 10 countries and territories on the red list will be removed from 4am Wednesday 15 December.
According to a statement released on Tuesday evening by Ndidiamaka Eze, Press & Public Affairs Officer of the British High Commission Abuja, “passengers arriving from Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will not have to stay in a managed quarantine hotel on arrival in England from this date.
“As Omicron cases rise in the UK and in countries around the world, the travel red list is less effective in slowing the incursion of the variant from abroad and these temporary measures are no longer proportionate. The red list has successfully served its purpose in delaying the spread of Omicron into the UK to buy time for scientists to learn more about this variant.
“All vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK must continue to take a pre-departure test two days or less before they depart for the UK and must take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. These testing measures are vital in helping to prevent any additional cases of Omicron from entering the UK and stopping people from passing it on to others.
“This is a critical phase in tackling the Omicron and the Government’s focus remains on slowing the spread of the variant in the UK – through maintaining testing requirements at the border, through the introduction of Plan B measures, and by turbocharging the booster rollout.”
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing CB said: “On Tuesday 14th December, UK Ministers made the decision – based on scientific and public health data – to remove Nigeria from the UK’s travel red list. The emergence of the Omicron variant is a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and like all countries around the world the UK has had to take difficult decisions to protect public health.
“We took this necessary precautionary action to give us time to understand the challenge we and others faced, and to slow down the spread of Omicron while scientists urgently assessed what impact the variant has on vaccines, treatments and transmissibility. When we announced the heightened restrictions we made clear that we would remove them as soon as we could, and that is the decision Ministers have taken today.
“I know this will be welcome news for students, tourists, businesses and families in the UK and Nigeria, although I recognise the impact that these temporary health measures have had.”
The UK Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The red list bought our scientists time to learn more about Omicron and to slow the seeding of the variant from abroad into the UK. Now that there are high levels of community transmission, it is right to remove the red list and focus on our national effort to tackle Omicron.
“With cases doubling every two to three days we’ve turbocharged our booster programme, we’re asking arrivals to keep testing to limit the spread of new cases, and we are introducing Plan B measures to protect the country from the threat of this new variant.”
The statement noted that “while all countries have now been removed from the red list, the managed quarantine hotel policy remains in place to act as a crucial line of defence against the importation of variants of concern. Restrictions will be re-imposed should there be a need to do so to protect public health.
“Airlines will continue to check all passengers for pre-departure tests alongside their completed Passenger Locator Form, and passengers will not be allowed to board a flight without providing evidence of a negative test result.
“The government will take further action if necessary to contain the virus and the new variant, as has been the case throughout the pandemic. The UKHSA continues to monitor the situation closely, in partnership with scientific and public health organisations across the world, and the government is working collaboratively with the World Health Organisation and countries around the world to better understand the new variant.
“For more information, please check our travel advice: Travel to England from another country during coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
“British nationals in Nigeria should check Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/nigeria and follow local guidance.
“The FCDO will continue to offer tailored consular assistance to British nationals in country in need of support overseas on a 24/7 basis.
“If you are a British National in Nigeria and require Consular Assistance please use our online contact form: www.gov.uk/contact-consulate-abuja or www.gov.uk/contact-consulate-lagos. Our consular team can also be contacted on + 234 (1) 277 0780/0781/0782 (Lagos) Or +234 (9) 4623100 (Abuja).”