International

UK cracks down on travel as omicron concerns rise

The United Kingdom (U.K.) is cracking down on travel as fears about the omicron variant continue to rise. 

British Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced Saturday that all travelers will be required to test negative for the virus before boarding flight regardless of their vaccination status. 

Nigeria was also added to the United Kingdom's "red list," meaning only U.K. and Irish citizens traveling from the country will be allowed entry.

"In light of the most recent data we are taking further action to slow the incursion of the Omicron variant," Javid said in tweets announcing the new measure. 

"Vaccines remain our first line of defence - the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Please get vaccinated or #GetBoosted as soon as you can," he added.

The restrictions add to the travel ban on southern African that the U.K. put in place last week in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the omicron variant after it was detected in the region.

In addition to the travel ban, the U.K. also reinstated mask mandates for stores and public transportation. 

​​"Right now this is the responsible course of action to slow down the seeding and the spread of this new variant and to maximize our defenses," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the time. "From today we're going to boost the booster campaign."

Johnson said the mask restrictions will last for at least three weeks while scientists learn how effective the coronavirus vaccines are against the omicron variant and how transmissible it is.  

The World Health Organization and other scientists have condemned travel bans multiple nations have implemented against African countries, saying they are harmful and ineffective.

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