As potential travelers and the travel industry wait to hear about the latest changes to the government’s “traffic light” restriction system, attention is focused on the more complex “red list”.
At present, there are over 60 countries in the highest risk category. Arrivals from these destinations must pay £ 2,285 (for a solo traveler) for 11 nights in hotel quarantine.
Airlines and travel agencies are calling for a reduction in the red list. But two major analysts said The independent that the case of any red list collapsed.
While some countries – like Montenegro – are on the Red List due to the large number of cases there, most have far lower numbers of infections than the UK.
They are usually left on the red list to prevent the importation of “variants of concern”.
Robert boyle, the former director of British Airways who now runs Gridpoint Consulting, said: “I don’t think there are really any countries with high cases of worrying variants.
“With the exception of a handful of sequences where the variant was not identified, 99.7% of the worldwide sequences for the week ending September 4 were a Delta variant.
“Of the 45,809 footage uploaded that week, there were no instances of beta. The week before, there were three of them.
“Gamma and Mu also continue to go extinct.”
Donal Kane, the analyst – and frustrated traveler – who tweets like @EvilDoctorK agreed, saying, “There’s really no justification for having a red list at this point.”
“There should be liberal entry for vaccinated travelers from anywhere, perhaps with surveillance testing, with still possible but more restricted entry for unvaccinated travelers – but not hotel quarantine.
“Efforts and resources devoted to Red List public health theaters would be better directed towards improving immunizations, disease surveillance and testing in countries that may present a risk. “
But Mr Kane said the lack of political opposition to the Red List – and, in some circles, her popularity, means she is ready to stay.
“I would love to see the whole Red List removed, but I’m realistic – that won’t happen in the short term.
“The next best thing for now is a significant reduction in its geographic reach, perhaps coupled with an exemption for vaccinated travelers.
“And if we look at this reduction in scope with the variations in mind, then it looks like it’s really only South America where there’s a residual concern. But the arguments for Brazil and much of South America that remain in the red are weakening by the day. “
A third analyst, Ben mccluskey, said: “With 62 countries currently on the UK’s Red List, there are many candidates who could be pulled, including South Africa, Turkey and Pakistan, all of whom have done in the past 30 last days a level of genomic sequencing comparable to that of the countries currently underway. the UK Amber List.
“These data show that the dominant variant in these countries is the Delta variant, the same strain of Covid most prevalent in the UK and in European countries currently on the UK’s amber list.
“In addition, the latest data from the NHS Test and Trace shows that among the sequenced positive UK arrivals, no variants of concern have been identified.
“Like Ireland, the UK may keep many South American countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru on the ‘red’ list due to the increased prevalence of” worrying variants “like Lambda, Gamma and Mu.
“The same can be said for Egypt, where only a few genomes have been shared lately. “
Individual nations on the Red List are lobbying more intensively against their status – and seeking help from senior politicians.
In a joint statement on behalf of the South African Tourism Officer, Ben Bradshaw MP Lord Oates and Baroness Chalker said: “The evidence clearly points to South Africa being taken off the Red List. If the UK government is to maintain the integrity of its traffic light system, it must reward countries that empirically prove they are safe by granting them amber status.
David Frost, Managing Director of SATSA – representing the southern African inbound tourism industry – said: “Every week the UK keeps South Africa on its red list, it erodes vital economic and environmental ties between our two countries.
“Long after the threat of the pandemic has passed, memories of Britain’s duplicity will last. “