Trouble about travel restrictions: Not only Omikron worries South Africa

Status: 11/28/2021 1:14 p.m.

Life in South Africa is still largely normal – despite the Omikron variant and the increasing number of cases. But the fear grows. Because tourists leave the country, people fear for their livelihood.

By Jana Genth, ARD-Studio Johannesburg

There are long queues at Johannesburg Airport. Travelers literally smoke their heads trying to leave South Africa. David Good is British and was lucky: “We took a two-week vacation here and are flying back to Great Britain via Frankfurt today. We hope that the German government will allow us to change trains in Frankfurt. But I think they will, because the employees said it was possible. “

Jana Genth
ARD-Studio Johannesburg

He’ll be back in London tomorrow – one less tourist who is pouring money into the coffers of the South African tourism industry. This happens at a time when many guest houses, restaurants and national parks were fully booked again for the first time in a year and a half.

No understanding of the travel restrictions

David Frost of the SATSA Tourism Association has no understanding of the travel restrictions: “We’ve seen this before and we have felt the devastating effects of such restrictions. We don’t have any specific information about these draconian moves by the UK and many other countries – including most of the EU countries – would justify it. “

So far mild courses

There is actually a lot that is not yet known about the new Omikron variant. After all: All previously proven cases, says the South African medical association SAMA, had a mild course.

A lot of research is still needed, says Adrian Puren, head of the Institute for Communicable Diseases: “It’s basically no surprise because viruses just mutate. We currently have little data on the variant. Our experts at the Institute for Communicable Diseases work non-stop to understand them better. “

Today, South Africa reports increased infection numbers again, compared to yesterday by 14 percent. The country last had more than 3000 infections within one day in mid-September, when the third wave was just flattening out.

“The world has failed at vaccine distribution”

Politicians in South Africa think the current travel restrictions are premature. However, other countries on the continent are also affected.

Ayoade Alakija heads the African Union’s vaccine initiative. In an interview with the BBC, she criticized that the development was foreseeable. “What is happening now could have been avoided. It follows from the failure of the world to distribute the vaccine fairly, urgently and rapidly. It follows from the fact that developed countries have been hoarding vaccine doses. That is unacceptable. Travel restrictions are based on political decisions, not on scientific, they are wrong. “

“If flights are canceled, it affects us very much”

It is also wrong from the point of view of many companies that are now concerned. Many livelihoods depend on vacationers in South Africa, tens of thousands in Cape Town alone. “We sell arts and crafts to tourists. The backbone of Cape Town is tourism,” reports Eric Uwuso, who makes a living from selling souvenirs.

“If flights are canceled, it hits us very hard because there are no vacationers. Our business is based on tourism. I have already laid off the two women who worked for me. Now that flights are canceled, that means that there won’t be any more travelers, so we’ll close. “

“Worry yes – panic no”, Wolfgang Preiser, virologist, University of Stellenbosch South Africa

tagesschau24 12:00 p.m., 11/28/2021

Tourists want to go home

Under all hygiene rules, life in South Africa is still largely normal. The lockdown, which has been in place in various stages since the end of March 2020, has not yet been tightened again. Tourists still watch them come home.

Tom Reeds is from Great Britain. He’s also at the Lufthansa counter in Johannesburg. “I wanted to stay three weeks and fly back on December 10th. When I found out that travel restrictions were again in effect, I tried it and we got the last two seats with Lufthansa – via Frankfurt to London.”

Reeds has his negative PCR test in hand – in the UK he will still have to be quarantined. As of today, this also applies to travelers arriving in Germany, provided they have flown from South Africa.

Tourists confused, South Africa confused: travel restrictions hurt

Jana Genth, ARD Johannesburg, 28.11.2021 · 12:27 p.m.

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