Employees are seen wearing a face mask at the OR Tambo International Airport .Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
Employees are seen wearing a face mask at the OR Tambo International Airport .Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

ASATA reiterates support of government's travel restrictions

By Travel reporter Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

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The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) has reiterated its support for its members and their travelling customers following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that government would impose “extraordinary” travel recommendations for South African travellers to Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, US, UK and China as from March 18.

“We respect and understand the decision taken by the South African government to stem the spread of the virus by banning travel to and from certain destinations,” said Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA. 

“We appreciate the President’s well-considered position on this matter. We await further details, such as timelines when the government will re-evaluate the travel recommendations, to assess the implications for the outbound tourism industry.”

“We look look forward to engaging with the government tomorrow. We will work collectively with the private sector to limit the impact on the travel industry.”

ASATA and its members will continue to provide a calm, informed, coordinated and proactive response to the panic that has emerged globally around covid-19.

In related news, the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) says that while airlines are taking every possible precaution to curb the spread of the covid-19 infection, passengers should also act responsibly and with due care by limiting their exposure to fellow travellers, air crew and airport workers.

“Airlines throughout Southern Africa are complying with stringent international and local health and safety measures to curb the spread of covid-19, but we urge any passengers who are feeling unwell, displaying any respiratory illness symptoms, or who may have come into contact with a carrier of the coronavirus, not to travel to airports or board flights,” said AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal.

“Similarly, people who have recently travelled and who subsequently display symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, should seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider,” added Zweigenthal.

Since the outbreak and spread of covid-19, airlines across the region have intensified precautionary measures in line with practices recommended by global and national authorities, including the UN World Health Organisation, the International  Air Transport Association, the Center for Disease Control, South Africa’s Department of Health and its National Institute of Communicable Diseases.  

These precautions include sanitising and cleaning of aircraft cabins, including seats, safety belts, seat-back trays, window blinds, overhead baggage stowage doors, lavatories, galleys, catering equipment and other touch-points.

“Despite these various measures, among the confirmed covid-19 cases in South Africa are people who recently travelled by air and who may have infected other passengers on the same flights. For this reason we are appealing to all travellers to act responsibly. If you are unwell, please don’t fly. Instead, please see a doctor,” added Zweigenthal. 

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