UK travel ban

Image: Adobe Stock

UK travel ban against SA to remain ‘indefinitely’ pending vaccine efficacy

The United Kingdom’s entry ban on South Africans is set to continue until scientific data on vaccine efficacy proves it is safe to allow movement between the two countries once again.

UK travel ban

Image: Adobe Stock

The UK government implemented flight and travel bans against South Africa as a result of the new COVID-19 variant which was detected in the South Africa late last year.

South Africans are currently not permitted to enter the United Kingdom unless they have dual nationality or permanent residence.  Direct flights between the two countries halted in December last year as a result of a directive issued by UK authorities.

Airlines have already been forced to suspend scheduled passenger flights between South Africa and the United Kingdom for several months.


News24 reported that the UK’s travel ban against South Africa will be in place indefinitely. According to the report, the UK will only consider lifting the restrictions against South Africa once tests conclusively prove the efficacy of the UK’s vaccination programme.

“The challenge we are facing at the moment is there is very little hard data on efficacy of the vaccines, particularly the ones we are using in the UK vaccination programme – against the new variants that were discovered, particularly the one that was first sequenced in South Africa,” Nigel Casey, outgoing UK High Commissioner (Pretoria), told News24.


The UK has just begun the process of restarting international travel ahead of the peak summer season when many Britons travel to destinations outside of the country for holiday purposes. The launch of a new “traffic-light system” categorises countries according to risk levels.

The key factors used to determine these risk levels include:

  • The percentage of a country’s population that has been vaccinated;
  • The rate of infection;
  • The prevalence of COVID-19 variants;
  • A country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

“Government’s priority remains to protect the public and the vaccine roll-out from international coronavirus (COVID-19) variants of concern,” said UK Health Minister Grant Shapps, as quoted in Tourism Update.

ALSO READ: ‘Traffic-light system’: UK to announce new international travel rules


While Britain moves to reopen its borders once again with this traffic-light system, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa remain on the UK’s red list. This is bad news for the tourism sectors in many Southern African countries, which heavily rely on visitors from the United Kingdom.

South Africans will certainly have to wait longer until they can enter the United Kingdom again, but British nationals are also strongly discouraged from travelling to countries on the red list since this requires costly self-paid hotel-managed quarantines when returning to the UK.

Tourism Update recently reported that the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA) is lobbying to move sub-Saharan countries from the UK’s red list in an effort to save the region’s ailing tourism sector from collapse.