Travel lockdown in South Africa

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday made a historic announcement to approve a countrywide lockdown which will result in only certain sectors of businesses can remain operational.
The president said: “All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.”
“Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open. We will publish a full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open.”
According to the president, the following service sectors will need to be operational during the lockdown:

Essential services
1. Electricity – constant electricity supply without load shedding
Public companies and private organisations, their employees and suppliers that are essential to the generation, transmission and distribution of power will continue to work as normal.  This is to include municipalities, suppliers of logistics, feedstock and maintenance crew are all required to continue to work and provide security of electricity supply. 
2. Water and sanitation
Public companies and private organisations, their employees and suppliers critical to the safety of water supply in bulk, potable drinking water and sanitation must continue to work to provide critical water and sanitation services.  Municipalities are also included alongside those who are involved in the supply of materials, chemicals and equipment. 
3. ICT Infrastructure
The president said they have engaged extensively with the ICT sector and are convinced that the networks will be stable during this lockdown cycle. It is during this time that ICT industry collaboration will be critical to secure that the public remains connected and serviceable. The sector includes: data centres, fibre optic providers, towers and antennae will continue to operate at full capacity.
The industry leaders will cooperate and use various data points to provide prognostic insights into the spread and impact gesture of the pandemic which will give the South African government and the public’s ability to be aggressive in measures that flatten the curve and social and economic impact of the virus.  ​
Social media platforms will allow people to remain connected as these platforms are critical to the circulation of up-to-date information. However, all South Africans are reminded that online security is important and to be attentive to cybercriminals who will during this period try to exploit any unsuspecting individuals. 

Protecting our healthcare system
President Ramaphosa said, “This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management”.
This indicates that neighbourhood health workers can focus on screening more people and testing for the Covid-19 in high-density, high-risk areas.
To ensure hospitals can cope with the influx of patients and are not overwhelmed, a Centralised Patient Management System for severe to critical cases of Covid-19 will also be take effect. Mild cases of the virus will receive Decentralised Primary Care.
Informal settlements and rural areas will be provided with emergency water supplies, using storage tanks, water tanks, boreholes and communal standpipes so that people have access to clean water to maintain good hygiene.

Travel restrictions
The president has tightened on some travel measures whilst there were already restrictions in place for travellers coming in and going out of the country.
South African traveller that arrive into the country will automatically have into isolation for a 14-day quarantine period.
It is with great regret that international travellers coming in from high-risk counties will not be allowed into the country.
Those travellers who landed from high-risk countries after 9 March are to be isolated to their hotel room for a 14-day quarantine period.

Economic relief
The president restated and emphasised the drastic impact Covid-19 will have on the economy, which could cause the loss of many 1000’s of jobs and may even lead to the closure of businesses.
Ramaphosa announced an economic plan to help soften the impact on South Africa against the virus. There will be a solidarity fund to support people whose lives have been severely disrupted by the virus.
The fund is already active and anyone can contribute cash to www.solidarityfund.co.za.
The government has also pledged to assist small businesses in the informal sector who will suffer from the lockdown with a safety net fund.
Ramaphosa said, “To alleviate congestion at payment points, old-age pensions and disability grants will be available for collection from 30 and 31 March 2020, while other categories of grants will be available for collection from 1 April 2020”.

Flights cancelled
Comair will suspend all Kulula and British Airways flights in South Africa from 26 March. 
The shut down comes as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decree to put the country in lockdown from Thursday. Comair employees will stay at home from 27 March to 17 April and will resume duty from 19 April. Comair will do its best to accommodate customers who are wanting to travel over the next two days and seats will be subject to availability.
Passengers can change to travel dates for free if they wish to do so and only a fare difference may apply. Passengers can cancel their flight and will get a credit to the value of their flight valid for 12 months. For more information on their commercial policy, please visit their websites, www.kulula.com or  www.comair.co.za.

SAA suspends all international flights
South African Airways (SAA) has immediately suspended all international flights until 31 May 2020 in response to the travel ban.
There has been a substantial decline in demand for air travel and the situation has caused many airlines across the world to cancel flights. SAA will only operate on its regional and domestic routes.
SAA operates in three markets that are listed in the travel ban as high-risk countries. These are Washington DC and New York, JFK, London, Heathrow and Frankfurt and Munich. SAA operates flights to Perth and São Paulo which have not been declared high-risk.  All of these flights are now cancelled. 

UAE suspends flights
Emirates Airlines has announced it will temporarily suspend all passenger and transit flights. The decision will take effect in 48 hours of which cargo and emergency evacuation flights would be exempt.
Emirates will continue flights to South Africa, the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, the US and Canada. The country has also stopped granting visas on arrival and forbidden foreigners (who are legal residents who are outside the country) from returning.

SA Express to suspend operations
As of 18 March, SA Express has suspended all operations indefinitely as a result of the operational challenges including the Covid-19 outbreak. Passengers with confirmed flight bookings will be accommodated on alternative flight arrangements while non-essential staff will placed on compulsory leave. The airline said it will use this period to review and streamline operations for improved efficiency.

Airlink changes
Airlink has amended its flight schedule to comply to the South African’s new travel ban and Covid-19 outbreak.
Airlink’s changes are automatically done in the reservations system. All passengers to check their flight details using the ‘Manage My Booking’ function on Airlink’s website or through their travel agents. 
Passengers with tickets between 18 March and 30 September 2020 can make changes to their travel dates. Airlink will facilitate one free date change to their reservation.

Worldwide flight restrictions
Here are some of the changes that are happening globally to the airline industry.
Algeria announced on Monday a suspension of all scheduled flights with Europe.
Austria Airlines said that it will suspend all of its flights from Thursday due to a sharp drop in demand as a result of the Covid 19 virus. 
British Airways and Spanish aircraft Iberia will reduce flight capacity by 75% between April and May.
Portugal will close its border with Spain for a month and that includes suspending air travel. 
France will reduce long-distance train schedules, bus and plane travel only a few international flights will be maintained – including to the US and Africa.

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