The Namibian government said it was perplexed by the United Kingdom’s decision to keep it on the red list of countries facing travel restrictions despite Covid-19 infections in the country dramatically declining.
The red list, which has existed since January, contains countries that are defined as particularly high-risk for new and emerging strains of coronavirus.
Several countries have since been removed, leaving a majority of African countries on it, which has caused an uproar with travellers due to the high cost of a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival in the UK.
“We did not expect that decision. However, we also recognise that the country went through a very difficult time with various lockdowns,” said ministry of international relations executive director Penda Naanda.
He said the ministry has engaged the UK High Commission in Windhoek, while the High Commission of Namibia in London is engaged at all levels with the UK government on the issue.
Naanda added the ministry expects Namibia to be removed from the red list by the beginning of October. Namibia, since recording its first Covid-19 case in March 2020, the country has recorded more than 127 000 cases, but new infections have been slowing over the past two months.
“The onus is on Namibia to demonstrate that it is a safe country to travel to, a task which the Namibian tourism sector, as well as the international relations ministry have taken to heart. We will also have to continue to advocate for vaccination in order to achieve herd immunity and implement health protocols to keep our nation as healthy as possible,” said Naanda.
Neighbouring South African, who also find themselves on the red list, are intensifying their efforts to be removed.
In a statement, South African international relations minister Naledi Pandor said their government, together with other stakeholders will intensify efforts to have South Africa removed from the list.
She was optimistic that the government of the UK will finally realise that their decision is not harming just the tourism industry but other businesses from both countries.