The European Commission has proposed to suspend flights from the southern African region due to the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19, its president Ursula von der Leyen announced on Friday. Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands have already taken action.
“The European Commission will propose, in close coordination with the Member States, to activate the emergency brake to interrupt air travel from the Southern African region due to variant B.1.1.529“the official tweeted, the day after a similar decision from London.
Refused to enter Germany from Friday evening
Germany will refuse entry into its territory to foreign travelers from South Africa on Friday evening, outgoing German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on Friday.
This rule will apply to South Africa and “probably neighboring countries“, he added. Only German citizens will be allowed to return, respecting a quarantine of 14 days, even if they are vaccinated.
“The last thing we need now is the introduction of a new variant which causes even more problems“, explained the minister.
Restriction extended to southern Africa for Italy, France and the Netherlands
Italy, for its part, prohibits the entry of its territory to anyone who has stayed in southern Africa “in the last fourteen days“Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced on Friday, citing”maximum precaution“facing the new variant of Covid.
The countries affected by this measure are South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, he said.
Dutch Minister of Health Hugo De Jonghe has also announced the ban from Friday noon on flights from southern Africa.
Therefore, the affected countries are added to the list of countries posing a very high risk. Among the new additions are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotoh, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Passengers on flights that are still on their way will be tested at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam) and will then have to respect a quarantine.
According to the minister, this new mutation is “worrying“, although there is still a lot to be clarified.”This is a precautionary measure, in order to cushion the introduction of a new variant that may be more contagious.“, he added.
The Dutch in South Africa have the right to return, “but for them, the double obligation of a test and a quarantine applies“.
Ditto for France, which immediately suspends arrivals from seven southern African countries, including South Africa.
This measure, applied “for a minimum period of 48 hours “, also applies to travelers from Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini. “People who have traveled in the last 14 days in one of these countries are invited to report to the authorities and to perform an RT-PCR screening test as soon as possible.“, also adds Matignon.