Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta has urged Namibians and visitors alike requiring travel to South Africa to consider alternative routes such as air travel after virus-hit nation temporarily closed its land borders to all visitors in order to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The announcement on Monday evening by that country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has left many stranded, including bus operators who frequently transport passengers between the two countries following the suspension of their services.
Ramaphosa announced 20 land borders will be closed until February 15. However, he said, the closures will have several exceptions such as those travelling for medical emergencies and transportation of essential goods. In an interview, Shifeta yesterday said Namibians stranded in either country should explore the available alternative available transport modes such as air.
“They can still fly out. In any country, international law dictates that you cannot deny any citizen to come back home. If they want to come and there is a need to come, they can always come back if there is a way.
“They should follow available procedures from mission embassies of diplomatic offices to come home or go back home,” Shifeta said. In terms of tourism, he said, if the source market is closed, then Namibia cannot do anything, unless when they open. He said, for now, Namibia depends on the domestic economy, which shows positive signs due to given discounted leisure prices.
Ramaphosa extended coronavirus restrictions in the country Monday, citing a “massive increase” in Covid-19 cases driven by a variant discovered there last year.
The current measures were due to expire on 15 January and include closing beaches and public parks and banning the sale of alcohol.
Ramaphosa said the restrictions will be reassessed when the current peak of infections eases. The country has reported over 1.2 million Covid-19 cases and over 33 000 deaths. -email@example.com