Countries re-introduce travel bans in response to Omicron variant

Over the past few days, governments have begun closing their borders to flights originating in southern Africa due to the emergence of a potentially vaccine-evading variant of Covid-19 – the Omicron variant. With international travel just beginning to return to levels that make flying profitable, the new variant may be another hurdle for airlines as they struggle back to profitability.

Travel Restrictions

Over the past few days, many countries across the globe have imposed restrictions on flights arriving from southern African countries, in light of the new Omicron variant. The Middle East, Europe, and countries in Asia have all announced action to curb the spread of the new variant.

On Friday, European Commission chief Ursula Von Der Leyen prompted countries to agree to the activation of an emergency ‘air brake’ which would ban travel from countries in southern Africa, with the likes of KLM, Air France, Swiss, Lufthansa, and other major European carriers, being affected should the ban have a long term presence.

“All air travel to these countries should be suspended until we have a clear understanding about the danger posed about this new variant and travelers returning from these regions should respect strict quarantine rules,”

Ursula Von Der Leyen, 26/11/21

Along with this, the United Kingdom has announced mandatory hotel quarantine for citizens arriving from southern African countries. While also announcing some domestic measures, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stated that all arrivals coming into the UK should quarantine until they receive a negative ‘day two’ test.


In the Middle East, airlines such as Emirates and Qatar have canceled and turned away passengers from flights originating in southern African countries, with the Omani government banning all travelers from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Eswatini.

As directed by the Dubai COVID‑19 Command and Control Centre (CCC), all travelers originating from, or transiting from, the countries listed below will not be accepted for travel into Dubai with effect from Monday 29 November 2021 until further notice.

Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Customers who have been or connected through the above-mentioned countries in the last 14 days will not be accepted on any Emirates flights.

Affected customers do not need to call us immediately for rebooking. Customers can simply hold on to their Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with their travel agent or booking office to make new travel plans.

Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused.

Emirates, 27/11/21

Along with these countries; Thailand, India, Australia, Japan, Canada, and India, to name but a few, have all banned travel to and from southern African countries with the United States introducing a ban on arrivals from said countries on Monday (29/11/21) after what some see as a controversial delay.



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