In Retaliatory Move, FG to Impose Travel Restrictions on UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia

In Retaliatory Move, FG to Impose Travel Restrictions on UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia

•13 countries add UK to their red list over Omicron cases

Festus Akanbi in Lagos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja with agency reports

The federal government is planning to add the United Kingdom, Argentina, Canada, and Saudi Arabia to red list countries, following their decision to impose travel restrictions on Nigeria.

Also, as the United Kingdom imposed restrictive measures against Nigeria and other countries over the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID19, about 13 countries have also barred travellers from UK from entering their territories.

The UK had imposed travel restrictions on Nigeria, claiming that 21 cases of Omicron recorded in England were linked to travellers from Nigeria.
But the travel ban was trailed by global outrage with some national and international stakeholders describing it as racist and discriminatory.

The federal government had also condemned the decision of the UK, with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, describing it as discriminatory, unfair, punitive, indefensible, and unjust.

In a leaked voice note obtained by THISDAY yesterday, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, stated that the decision to ban these countries in retaliation would be made by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 latest by Tuesday.

“Also, there is a case of Saudi Arabia, which put Nigeria on the banned list – no visa, no travel, et Cetra. So also Canada. So, today, there was a meeting, I participated in a zoom meeting, COVID-19 task force, just for your information also.

“We have given our input in aviation, it is not acceptable by us and we recommend that those countries – Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina be also put on Red List, as they did similarly to us.
“If they don’t allow our citizens to go into their countries who are their airlines coming to pick from our country?

“So, I am very sure that in the next few days, between now and Monday, or perhaps Tuesday, at maximum, all those countries will be put on the red list from the PSC (Presidential Steering Committee) from the task force of COVID-19. Once they are put on the red list, which means they are banned, of course, their airlines will be banned.

“I’m so sorry, we are going through a difficult moment, but we have to do it in the interest of our country,” Sirika explained.

Following the 21 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 reported in England, which were allegedly linked to travel from Nigeria, the United Kingdom had imposed travel restrictions on Nigeria.

Under this measure, the UK added Nigeria to the red list of countries from where people arriving must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, to limit the spread of the Omicron strain of COVID-19.

This implies that the UK and Irish citizens arriving from Nigeria must isolate in a government-approved managed quarantine facility for 10 days, and receive two negative PCR tests, as further precautionary action is taken against the Omicron variant.

A temporary travel ban was also introduced for all non-UK and non-Irish citizens and residents who have been in Nigeria in the last 10 days, meaning they were banned from entry into the UK.
Canada and Saudi Arabia had also banned travellers from Egypt, Nigeria, and Malawi over fears of the spread of the new Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, about 13 countries have also barred travellers from Britain from entering their territories.
The measures by the countries came in response to surging cases of Omicron variant in the UK.

Agency reports monitored by THISDAY yesterday indicated that with reports of cases of new Omicron variant rising in the UK, some governments have taken measures to ban UK citizens from entering their countries.

According to the latest information from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office in London, countries like Australia, Falkland Islands, Indonesia Buhutan, China, Israel, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, and Suriname have imposed travel restrictions on the UK.

In addition, Malaysia and Taiwan have banned the entry of British travellers and foreign nationals from entry.
Chinese authorities have also suspended all direct flights from the UK.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had announced that the country had recorded only six confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Related Articles