Travel ban discriminatory – Shifeta

The travel bans and restrictions lack scientific basis and are unacceptable, discriminatory and in contradiction with the guidance from the World Health Organisation, the minister said.

30 November 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta yesterday described a travel ban and restrictions imposed on SADC countries due to the detection of a new Covid-19 variant as unacceptable and discriminatory.

This after the United Kingdom (UK) last week placed Namibia back on its red list of stricter travel regulations along with other southern African countries over fears regarding the new variant, Omicron.

Dozens of other countries have since followed its example and also imposed stricter travel restrictions on Namibia.

According to Shifeta, the ministry not only regrets the decision taken by the UK to place Namibia and other “sister countries from SADC” back on the red list, “but discontents steps taken by several European Union [EU] member states, the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and other countries that have imposed restrictions and stricter measures against travellers from Namibia”.

“The travel bans and restrictions imposed on the countries from the SADC region lack scientific basis and are unacceptable, discriminatory and in contradiction with the guidance from the World Health Organisation.

“As we enter the festive season, this is a particularly crushing blow to our tourism industry and for the many lives and livelihoods that depend on it.”

Shifeta said Namibia remains committed to being a safe destination for business and leisure travel and will continue to comply with and enforce necessary health and safety measures against Covid-19.

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Due to combined efforts, Covid-19 has declined dramatically over recent months in Namibia, the minister added.

“The ministry would like to thank partner airlines Eurowings, Lufthansa, Ethiopian Airlines and Fly Namibia for their continuous support and commitment to keep Namibia accessible to the world in this difficult period.”

Shifeta said in light of the continued threat of Covid-19 and in support of the recovery of the tourism sector, the ministry urges Namibians to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to comply with established public health protocol.

“The government will continue through diplomatic channels to engage the relevant authorities in the UK, UAE, EU and its member states and other relevant countries to ensure that these unjustified restrictions are reversed.”

Only seven new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Namibia on Sunday.

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