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DA mayors to act swiftly on travel bans imposed following discovery of Omicron Covid-19 variant

DA leader John Steenhuisen said his party mayors would launch a bid to end international travel bans. Picture: File

DA leader John Steenhuisen said his party mayors would launch a bid to end international travel bans. Picture: File

Published Nov 30, 2021

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Pretoria - DA leader John Steenhuisen yesterday said his party mayors in metros would launch a bid to end international travel bans imposed on South Africa following the discovery of the Omicron Covid-19 variant

Mayors, including the DA Premier in the Western Cape Alan Winde, will engage with travel partners in the international community for the purpose of lifting the travel ban, according to Steenhuisen.

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Joburg mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse, Tania Campbell of Ekurhuleni, Randall Williams of Tshwane and Cape Town’s Geordin Hill-Lewis will “ask travel partners in the international community to rethink their stance on bans to and from South Africa”.

Steenhuisen’s call was made following a stern statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that countries that imposed travel bans on Southern African countries, including South Africa, must urgently lift them.

Steenhuisen bemoaned the fact that international travel bans “over the festive season will decimate businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector, many of which are hanging on by a thread, having barely survived the lashings of lockdown and load shedding that the government has already administered”.

“If the government fails to get international travel bans reversed, and fails to provide financial support to businesses, we can expect first quarter unemployment numbers to rise and more people to join the social grant queue,” he said.

During his public address on Sunday, Ramaphosa slammed countries that have imposed travel restrictions on South Africa and her sister countries in Southern Africa.

These countries included the UK, US, EU members, Canada, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan, Thailand, the Seychelles, Brazil and Guatemala.

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Ramaphosa said: “These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our Southern African sister countries. The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant."

According to him, the prohibition on travel would “further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic”.

The new variant was first discovered in Botswana and subsequently in South Africa, and it has since been identified in countries such as Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium, Italy, the UK, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Israel.

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