Mauritian govt extends travel ban on SA until end of Jan, SAA confirms

The original ban was due to expire on Friday.

FILE: SAA said it would continue to monitor developments closely. Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Airways (SAA) on Wednesday confirmed that the travel ban imposed by the Mauritian government on all flights between South Africa and Mauritius has been extended until the end of January.

The original ban was due to expire on Friday.

It’s been extended as a result of the Omicron variant, which was first identified in South Africa but was already present in several other countries.

SAA said it would continue to monitor developments closely.

The South African tourism sector also said it's regrettable that Mauritius has extended its ban on all flights coming from South Africa.

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa said Mauritius locking its boarders will have a ripple effect.

Tshivhengwa said: "Mauritius is one of the most important destinations. For us, in terms of trade, there are many people dependent on that. So, that is regrettable."

At the same time, the United States has ordered an end to travel restrictions on eight Southern African countries.

President Joe Biden said the curbs were "no longer necessary to protect public health".

Biden issued a proclamation overnight repealing the restrictions on travel into the United States from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, eSwatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

The ban will be lifted on Friday.

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa also said the official lifting of travel bans by the US was too little too late for the December tourism season.

But Tshivhengwa said this gave them time to plan for the months ahead in the sector.

Tshivhengwa said the wide bans were infective to begin with: "The restrictions were not justified and were not based on science. It is good news that the US has recognised that and that the US has changed its mind. It means that we can continue to prepare ourselves for tourists from the US."