Confusion, heartbreak at Cape Town International as coronavirus strands travellers

Published Mar 20, 2020


Cape Town - "Chaotic scenes at Cape Town International Airport where scores of passengers are trying to leave. Long queues, stressed out passengers, overworked airline staff. Some airlines have cancelled flights to various destinations resulting in a mad scramble for passengers to try and get alternate flights out of South Africa." 

This is how journalist Robin Adams summed up the situation at the airport where he and his wife were waiting to catch a flight back to Istanbul, Turkey, where he is a sports presenter for TRT World.

The travel ban, set out by Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula in the International Air Services (Covid19 Restrictions on The Movement Of Air Travel) Regulations 2020, came into effect on Wednesday, March 18, has resulted in the cancellation of a number of international flights and set restrictions on who is allowed to enter and exit the country.

Adams, who got married in Cape Town recently, painted a vivid picture of the confusion that ensued when travellers who did not understand the full implications of the travel ban which was announced earlier this week were told that they would not be able to leave the country. He shared details of the pandemonium at the airport with IOL.

File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA )

"Problem is (that) many travellers are only now finding out they can't leave, because of new Covid-19 rules which prohibit anyone who has been in SA for less than 14 days from departing. And it's heartbreaking to see the sheer desperation of people just wanting to get home," Adams continued.

"My wife and I reside in Turkey. We've been so worried about returning to Istanbul. We were meant to enjoy another week of honeymoon in the Cape and then go back to Turkey on the 26th of March. But we'd become increasingly unsettled the last two weeks as the worldwide coronavirus death toll increased, so decided to move our flights up to this Friday.

"We can thank our lucky stars we did because we've just been told Turkish Airlines is cancelling all flights to and from South Africa and this is the last one out this year. That had been our biggest fear all week. That flights would be suspended and borders closed and we'd be stranded in South Africa," Adams said.


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