New COVID variant: South Africans anticipate the worst ahead of holiday season

South Africans who don't plan to travel abroad are also unsure whether government will impose stricter lockdown restrictions that may have implications on their holiday plans.

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JOHANNESBURG - Since the discovery of the new Omicron variant and the growing number of new COVID-19 infections in the country, South Africans are anticipating the worst as they anxiously await to hear from from government

Passengers on several airlines were forced to make alternate arrangements on Saturday when airlines abruptly suspended flights from South Africa as the list of countries shunning the southern African region grows.

South Africans who don't plan to travel abroad are also unsure whether government will impose stricter lockdown restrictions that may have implications on their holiday plans.

The Flight Centre travel group's Kim Taylor has urged travellers to constantly check for updates as airlines such as KLM, Emirates, British Airways and Air France suspended services on Saturday in response to the growing list of countries that have imposed travel bans on South Africa.

"We have a list on our website in terms of the airlines that are still flying in and out of South Africa as well as the countries that are still open to travellers from South Africa but it is changing all the time," Taylor said.

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Meanwhile, those who were planning to travel locally over the festive season are unsure if they should go ahead with bookings as speculation over looming restrictions on travel and festivities make the rounds following the announcement that the National Coronavirus Command Council would be meeting this weekend.

The hospitality and tourism industries have expressed concern over the recent developments as they hoped to make a recovery over the festive season.

South African Airways (SAA) interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo announced that the last flight from SA to Mauritius, which was scheduled for Sunday, has been cancelled after Mauritian authorities imposed further travel restrictions on South Africa.

"It is with great sadness that we've just received a notification from the Mauritian government imposing further travel restrictions prohibiting all incoming travellers from South Africa arriving to the island.

"As per this directive, South African Airways has now cancelled flight SA190 from Johannesburg to Mauritius on Sunday 28 November 2021."

Kgokolo added this flight would operate to Mauritius as a ferry to pick up customers out of Mauritius. The departure time of flight SA191 out of Mauritius is 16:35 on Sunday 28 November 2021.