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Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier has written to the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, on the decision to keep South Africa on the UK “red list”.
As the world observes World Tourism Day, Maynier said the UK’s decision “is deeply disappointing and seems manifestly unfair, requesting that the decision be reviewed and South Africa removed from the UK red list”.
“The letter to the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP is one of many steps we’ve taken to engage with key decision-makers, both in the UK and in South Africa, to tackle this significant barrier to economic recovery, specifically for the tourism sector in the Western Cape,” stated Maynier.
He also added that “removing South Africa from the UK ’red list’ and easing travel restrictions for those travelling between the two countries ahead of our summer season, will provide much-needed relief for the tourism and hospitality sector, which has been hard-hit – with an estimated loss of 75 477 jobs in 2020 in the Western Cape.”
The British government’s decision to keep South Africa on its red list, apparently due to “small levels” of the Beta variant, has led to widespread disbelief and frustration among scientists in South Africa.
David Frost, chief executive of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) said the British High Commission reveals a shocking level of ignorance about the pandemic in its host nation.
“No infections from the Beta variant have been seen in South Africa in the past three weeks. It has been completely displaced by the same variant circulating in the UK, that is Delta.
Professor Shabir Madhi, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor of Vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand, called the removal of some countries, while maintaining South Africa on the red list, “unfathomable”.
He said South Africa had higher levels of vaccination, lower case numbers, and higher rates of surveillance for variants than some of those removed.