The United Kingdom has said Nigeria and 10 other countries will be removed from its travel red list from 4am on Wednesday.
The move follows anger from Nigeria and other African countries, with the United Nations describing the ban on non-UK residents entering England as “travel apartheid.”
The British government had on December 4 placed Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe on its travel ban following the outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
It said the red list was reintroduced as a precaution after the emergence of the Omicron variant.
The government had said the ban would be reviewed on December 20 but announcing the new development on Tuesday, the UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Omicron had spread so widely that the rules are now less effective.
“Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,” he told the parliament.
“Whilst we will maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4am tomorrow morning,” he added.
Some arrivals have already paid thousands of pounds to stay in government-approved quarantine hotels, and there have been complaints of chaotic organisation and inedible food during their stays.
Javid said he had asked for urgent advice on whether those currently in managed quarantine would be able to leave early.
He also said he was “very persuaded” by calls to reimburse people and hoped to make an announcement soon.
The travel industry had also warned the restrictions were hurting business.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the testing measures would be reviewed in the first week of January.
“As always, we keep all our travel measures under review and we may impose new restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health,” he said on Twitter.