An online petition to the British Government to allow fully vaccinated people travelling to the UK from South Africa to quarantine at home has gained 44,422 signatures (at time of writing) and has received a response from HM Government.
The petition, started on 10th June 2021, asks HM Government to:
Allow fully vaccinated people coming from red list countries to isolate at home
To allow fully vaccinated people who come from red listed countries to isolate at home instead of the hotel quarantine which is very expensive and non affordable. People need to go to see their families. Doctors who work for the whole year need to see their parents.
The hotel quarantine is very expensive and non affordable. I believe that there should be an exemption for fully vaccinated people and who had a negative PCR to isolate at their place of residence.
Sign this petition
Since the petition was launched, the hotel fees for the required 10 day stay, transportation and tests has risen from £1,750 to £2,285 for a single person, and from £650 to £1,430 for each additional adult sharing a room.
Whilst no official figures are available, the Chamber has heard numerous anecdotal stories of UK and dual nationality citizens becoming “trapped” in South Africa as they are unable to afford these fees on returning to the UK. Many more people have cancelled plans to travel to South Africa as a result of the extra costs, which is having a significant detrimental impact on the South African tourism and hospitality industry which is already struggling as a result of restrictions put in place to respond to the pandemic.
According to recent SA government statistics, in 2020 travel to South Africa was already down by 71%, which is significant in a sector responsible in 2018 for 3% of GDP and 4.5% of employment in South Africa.
Once a petition has reached over 10,000 signatures, the UK Government is obliged to respond, and consequently the Department of Health and Social Care released a statement on 6th July 2021, stating that “Public health has always been our number one priority and we will not risk throwing away our hard-won achievements which have only been possible through the work of the British people.”
“The purpose of our travel measures is to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable.”
The department also pointed out that payments for quarantine can be deferred over a 12 month period in cases where it may cause “significant financial hardship”.
It concluded that “All arrivals from red list countries weather [sic] fully vaccinated or not are expected to continue with the 10 days quarantine in a managed quarantine facility.”
“Recognising the strong strategic rationale and success of the vaccine programme, we will continue to look into the role of vaccinations in shaping a different set of health and testing measures for inbound travel at the next review stages of the traffic light system.”
The full statement is available on the petition website.
If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it will qualify to be debated in Parliament, although it’s unclear how much support a relaxation in quarantine measures to allow for home quarantine might receive from MPs.