UK fails to remove Kenya from travel 'red list'

Red list countries are "those which should not be visited except in the most extreme of circumstances," Grant Shapps.

Kenya remained on the travel ban list where it was first included in April, triggering a tit-for-tat travel blockade from Nairobi.

Kenya has once again been included in the United Kingdom's 'Red List'. This list refers to countries whose citizens are barred from traveling to England.

The travel ban which takes effect from today was announced by Grant Shapps, the UK's travel secretary.

Kenya remained on the travel ban list where it was first included in April, triggering a tit-for-tat travel blockade from Nairobi.

The UK travel ban comes amid fears that the highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant may spark a fourth wave of infections in Kenya over the next two months.

It also signals that reconciliatory talks initiated in mid-April to review the travel restrictions between Kenya and the UK, which threatened bilateral trade, economic and security relations, have not prompted England to downgrade the movement limits.

In May, Kenya lifted the ban on flights between Nairobi and London and eased restrictions imposed in retaliation to its inclusion in the red list.

In June, The Kenya Society in the UK said the lifting of the ban on UK flights by Nairobi was not enough.

Instead, the society maintained Kenya should be removed from the UK red list and a roadmap put in place to upgrade it to amber and green status.

In a letter by chairman Patrick Orr to UK High Commissioner Jane Marriott, the Kenya Society asked the envoy to urge the British government to conduct an immediate review of Kenya’s red listing status.

“The current measures are negatively impacting on UK-Kenya relations and most of those canvassed feel there is already long-term damage.

This is exacerbated by the circulation of data analysis among members calling into question just how significant the number of variant positive UK arrivals were from Kenya around the time when the original decision was taken,” Orr wrote.

The Kenya Society said although the damage had already been done, some people feel there is an opportunity for the relationship to be restored through prompt action by the UK government.

“50 per cent of those surveyed are experiencing a negative impact on business. The majority of these (67 per cent) are projecting revenue loss greater than 40 per cent year-on-year for FY21/22.

This is having further impacts on conservation and environmental efforts. Most people in our survey are also experiencing a high human cost from this measure,” the letter reads in part.

Kenya has relaxed requirements that it had imposed on British citizens that required them to be isolated for 14 days before they can be admitted to the country.

In mid-June review, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said the British nationals and non-citizens travelling through London are required to self-isolate for only seven days.

COVID-19 situation

The UK claims its decisions are based on scientific evidence on the incidence of deadly and highly contagious Covid-19 strains.

The rapidly transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant, first identified in India, is dominant in western Kenya, where it was initially detected in the country.

The government imposed restrictions on movement in the region to try and stem it from spreading nationwide.

Most countries are preparing to sign off on plans for unrestricted travel for people who have had both jabs.

About 1.61 million people have been inoculated so far in Kenya, of which 581,003 got their second doses.

The government expects to receive 13 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses from August and targets to inoculate more than 10 million people by the end of December and the entire 26 million adult population by the end of 2022.

Kenya had 192,435 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 3,760 deaths as of July 17, with a positivity rate of 10.5 percent.

Britain is one of Kenya’s main trading partners and in 2019 accounted for the fourth largest arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) with 181,400 visitors.

Tourist arrivals from the UK stood at 16,264 in the first half of this year from 42,341 in the same period last year, representing a 62 percent drop.


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