- Delayed flights or travel hiccups mean air passengers could be stopped by officials during curfew restrictions.
- If air passengers are stopped during curfew times due to delays or because their flights arrived close to or after curfew, they should show their boarding pass.
- The Department of Tourism says the intention of the curfew was not to make travel impossible.
An agreement has been reached for all passengers travelling by plane to be allowed to be on the road during curfew times if their flights were delayed or if the flight arrived closer or later than the curfew time.
This is according to Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), which represents the private sector.
"All they have to do is produce their boarding pass as a proof should they be stopped by the police while completing their journey," Tshivhengwa said on Tuesday.
On 14 December 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension of the national curfew due to rising numbers of Covid-19 infections throughout the country. The new curfew, which is 23:00 – 04:00, saw domestic airlines cancelling later flights to accommodate the restrictions.
Consequently, the TBCSA spoke to Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane to iron out domestic flights issues. Along with the minister and industry stakeholders, they attempted to reach an agreement that would not affect domestic flights.
"The tourism industry relies on both domestic and international tourists to boost the sector's revenue and the country's economy. As much as the curfew will continue to impact the tourism industry's revenues immensely, we continually encourage that we follow all the government guidance, regulations, and protocols," says Tshivhengwa.
Blessing Manale, spokesperson for the Department of Tourism, says the intention behind the curfew was not to make business and other travel impossible. In the department's view, a few exceptional cases of movement during curfew have not had a massive impact on domestic flights.
In relation to travel permission during the curfew, he says this will apply to private vehicles, e-hailing and shuttle services picking up persons from airports.
"We urge those collecting and or dropping their loved ones at airports to carry records of such travel itinenaries to ease their interaction with law enforcement agencies. We urge travellers and tourists to continue to act responsibly, to adhere to measures aimed at curbing the pandemic," cautions Manale.
"In the same breath, we call upon the airlines to engage passengers timeously on any schedule changes and to continue to engage with Airports Company SA to find landing and departure slots that facilitate lesser complications for travellers."
The TBCSA and its industry partners have developed a digital industry application as well as a Travel Safe – Eat Safe certification programme. The industry body encourages all establishments, including airlines, to enrol in the certification programme and utilise the official Covid-19 screening and protocols app to record compliance.