Fresh travel bans on SA described as hammer blow to Western Cape economy

Fresh travel bans on SA described as hammer blow to Western Cape economy
© Provided by Independent Online (IOL)

CAPE TOWN – The fresh travel bans on South Africa after a new variant was detected in the country have been described as a hammer blow to the Western Cape’s economy, which is reliant on international visitors during its peak season.

“This has been a hammer blow to our major job-creating sector in the province precisely when we needed a recovery, to claw back jobs lost over the last 19 months. This is extremely distressing to me, especially because the WHO has made it clear that travel bans are not an effective response.

“Our economy needs help urgently and that is why I call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce an emergency financial support package for this sector so that we save jobs,” said Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

“In the President’s Co-ordination Council called for today, I will maintain our position that we need to save both lives and jobs. We must not add to this crisis, by giving effect to a worsening jobs and humanitarian crisis that will undoubtedly cost lives too. We must be guided by expert advice and sound data, and we must always ask ourselves how any proposed action will impact our poorest residents who need jobs to be able to put food on the table for their families.”

He said they remained on high alert following the announcement of Omicron last week.

“What is clear is that there are still many unknowns on how this new variant will impact the pandemic, and that is why we urge the public to remain calm while increasing their vigilance during this time. We also urge our scientists to find the answers we need as quickly as possible.”

Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said the new variant has turned things upside down and is a major setback for the tourism and hospitality sector in the Western Cape.

“We have been working around the clock to assist passengers who have been stranded by providing access to transport and accommodation, and by liaising with consulates to assist where necessary. We want these tourists to come back again soon and so making sure they get all the help they need during this stressful time is important to us.”

Head of Health in the Western Cape, Dr Keith Cloete, said: “We must also remember to protect our airspace by wearing a mask, especially when indoors, by ensuring good ventilation in our homes and workspaces, by avoiding crowded places and confined spaces, and by ensuring that we gather outdoors wherever possible.”

Travellers have been advised to check their flight status before going to the airport and to liaise with their consulate to find out what assistance is available. Wesgro has also set up a dedicated FAQ page on the website, which can be of assistance: https://www.wesgro.co.za/corporate/resources/traveller-faqs

Cape Times

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