Direct flights to the UK to resume next week
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Rustenburg – Direct flights between South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK) will resume next week, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said on Sunday.
Spokesperson Clayson Monyela said British Airways would resume direct flights to South Africa from Tuesday, with the first flight to London on Wednesday.
“It will be one daily flight to Cape Town and OR Tambo International Airport [ORTIA], Virgin flies three times a week into ORTIA. They have not stopped theirs,” Monyela said in a tweet.
The United Kingdom High Commission in South Africa said entry would still be restricted to United Kingdom/Irish nationals and those with residence rights would need to undertake 10 days quarantine in a government approved hotel.
The United Kingdom (UK) imposed a travel ban on South Africa and other five southern African countries with effect from November 26, following the detection of a new Covid-19 variant known as Omicron first detected in Botswana and subsequently South Africa.
The other countries on the UK red list were Botswana, Lesotho, eSwatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Botswana said the Omicron variant was detected on four foreign nationals who had entered the country on November 7, on a diplomatic mission. They tested positive for Covid-19 on November 11 as they were preparing to return.
Botswana Health Minister Dr Edwin Dikoloti said the country has recorded 15 more Omicron variant cases, taking the country's tally to 19.
One of the cases was a South African who was in the country visiting family.
In a televised national address on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was deeply disappointed in the reaction to SA regarding the Omicron variant
He said there was no scientific justification for keeping imposing restriction on South Africa.
“The emergence of the Omicron variant should be a wake-up call to the world that vaccine inequality cannot be allowed to continue.
“We have said that vaccine inequality not only costs lives and livelihoods in those countries that are denied access, but that it also threatens global efforts to overcome the pandemic,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that the restrictions were unjustified and unfairly discriminated against South Africa and southern African countries.
“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.
“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to urgently reverse their decisions and lift the bans they have imposed before any further damage is done to our economies.”