The UK has buckled under pressure and lifted the travel ban on 11 countries mostly in Southern Africa including South Africa.
The UK imposed the Red List last month after scientists in South Africa detected a new Covid-19 variant now named “Omicron”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has conceded that the Omicron variant has spread so widely in the UK and the rest of the world and the travel bans were serving no purpose.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has lambasted countries that had imposed travel bans for not using science to arrive at decisions and acting unfairly.
Travel agencies in the UK had also mounted pressure for the ban to be lifted warning it was endangering the airlines and other associated businesses.
“The travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,” said Javid in a Parliament briefing on Tuesday.
Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe will now be removed from the Red List.
South Africa Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has welcomed the lifting of the travel ban. She said it was “a step in the right direction for South African tourism”.
Flights to the UK are expected to resume.