South Africa travel restriction
South Africa travel restrictions are lifted by several nations like Australia and the UK -- mainly for students and workers. Source: Emmanuel Croset / AFP

South Africa travel restrictions have been lifted by Australia and the UK ahead of other nations like the US or Canada.

The UK first started lifting travel bans on South Africa; Australia followed suit soon after. Due to how Omicron is already present within these nations, government officials realised that the South Africa travel restrictions were no longer effective to curb the spread of the new variant.

“Given that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and that Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,” said Sajid Javid, UK’s Secretary of State for Health. “While we will maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list, effective from four tomorrow morning.”

“In line with other countries including the UK, the border measures under the Biosecurity Act 2015 restricting travellers who have been in the eight Southern African countries (including South Africa) from entering Australia has now ceased,” noted a public statement by the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly. “Given the global spread of Omicron, international border bans are no longer a proportionate or effective means to contain the spread of Omicron.”

Travelling to Australia is only open to certain visa holders, which mainly applies to South African students and skilled workers. An Australian visitor visa is not accepted under the current rules.