Ramaphosa says to speak to UK PM over COVID travel curbs

The UK has placed South Africa on its coronavirus 'red list', forcing travellers into a pricey hotel quarantine on arrival.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at a media briefing on 3 June 2021. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said he was due to speak to Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the UK imposed severe travel restrictions for travellers arriving from South Africa.

The UK has placed South Africa on its coronavirus "red list", forcing travellers into a pricey hotel quarantine on arrival.

"On the issue of the UK putting us on a red list, I think this is the most unfortunate situation that we have been subjected to," Ramaphosa told a news conference.

"I'm due to speak to Prime Minister Boris Johnson," he said.

He, however, said South Africa was not vengeful over the blacklisting, which has dealt a crippling blow to tourism, a key sector which directly accounts for three percent of the nation's economy.

"We don't have the need to retaliate... because the UK is an important trading partner to South Africa, one of the very important ones.

"We should rather engage, and through our engagement we hope we will find a solution," he said, insisting that the decision to impose the travel restrictions was scientifically rather than politically driven.

Before the pandemic, more than 400,000 visitors a year flocked to South Africa from the former colonial power - more than any country outside of the continent.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.