UAE-based airline Emirates has announced that it will extend its ban on flights from South Africa until at least the first week of April.
In a notice sent to passengers, Emirates said that flights from the country will remain suspended until 8 April 2021, in line with government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa into the UAE.
Daily passenger flights to Johannesburg will continue to operate. The airline added that customers who have been to or connected through South Africa in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai.
“Emirates remains committed to serving our customers in South Africa, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow,” it said.
“We continue to work closely with all relevant authorities in this regard, and will endeavour to provide our customers with needed support to adjust their travel plans.”
Data published by travel website Skyscanner and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that South Africa is now one of the most travel-restricted areas in the world, with more than 120 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place.
This means that a country has suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or that entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.
By comparison, there are currently 97 moderate restrictions in place on South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements which can include taking Covid-19 tests.
Just eight countries have ‘low-risk restrictions’ meaning that travellers likely won’t have to face enforced quarantine periods.
A number of countries have also indicated that travellers from South Africa will be barred from entering – a sign that the country could be facing reputational damage as a result of the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19, which has been referred to as the “South African variant” abroad.
In addition to key target markets such as the US and UK, South Africa has also been flagged as a risk by a number of other European countries including Belgium, France, Germany, and Switzerland.
The variant was first discovered and reported by scientists in South Africa, however it has also been found to be spreading in more than 48 other countries.
By calling it the “South African variant”, a global impression has been given that South Africa is the source of the spread – when this is not the case.