Government warns holidaymakers going abroad they could be stranded

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South Africa has asked citizens to delay non-essential travel to Covid-19 high-risk countries.
South Africa has asked citizens to delay non-essential travel to Covid-19 high-risk countries.
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  • International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has issued a warning to South Africans travelling abroad during the festive period. 
  • She has cautioned South Africans travelling overseas that much of the Northern Hemisphere was experiencing a second coronavirus wave.
  • She said those intending to travel abroad should consider postponing non-essential travel to high-risk countries and warned travellers could get stuck again.

South Africans planning to travel abroad for the festive season should take extra precautions because they could end up being stranded, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said on Monday.

Pandor cautioned travellers that countries in the Northern hemisphere "are encountering a second wave of the pandemic" and said they should consider postponing non-essential travel to high-risk countries.

"South Africans should be cautious in travelling to these countries as you might become distressed or even destitute abroad pending the levels of lockdown in the respective countries and with the likelihood of international flights that might be cancelled at short notice," she told a briefing on South Africa's foreign policy highlights of 2020.

READ | Mkhize to South Africans: Choose between life, sickness or death this festive season

She warned that international travel was "at your own risk to these countries knowing the current circumstances and the uncertainty going forward".

"Please ensure that you are familiar with the immigration and health entry requirements of the country you will visit and South Africa's entry health requirement during the pandemic. If you have any uncertainty regarding the entry health requirements of the country you will be visiting, then please contact their embassy in SA for assistance."

Pandor said it was essential that international travellers familiarised themselves with the Covid-19 protocols of the countries they planned to visit.

More than 30 000 South Africans have been repatriated since the Level 5 lockdown was announced in March, Pandor said.

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor and
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor at a press briefing on Monday.

"From the time the president announced South Africa's Level 5 lockdown on 15 March to the time when international travel was again allowed under Level 1, [the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco)], through our consular services managed to repatriate just over 30 000 South Africans who were stranded from all corners of the world, using over 350 flights," she said.

"One of the challenges we faced as the Dirco in 2020 was the repatriation of our nationals, who found themselves stranded outside of SA due to lockdowns that were implemented by many countries, including SA, in their attempt to curb the spread of the virus." She said many had contributed to bringing people back home.

"I know many spent sleepless nights, working seven days a week, trying to bring our fellow citizens back to their loved ones.

"This experience has made us realise the importance of making sure that we equip all South Africans who intend travelling abroad during this season with information that might help them not to find themselves needing to be repatriated because they are stranded."

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