The European Union’s executive “will propose, in close consultation with member states, to activate the emergency brake to restrict airline traffic from the southern African region,” according to the EU’s chief on Twitter.
As governments hurry to avoid the spread of a new COVID-19 form with a large number of mutations, Germany and Italy joined Britain in prohibiting most travel to South Africa on Friday.
In a reflection of the mounting concern, the European Union recommended a separate ban on travel from southern Africa.
EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen tweeted Friday that the EU executive “will propose, in close consultation with member states, to activate the emergency brake to restrict air travel from the southern African region due to the variation of concern B.1.1.529.”
Germany’s new travel restrictions, which go into effect Friday night, will affect South Africa and “possibly neighbouring countries,” according to German Minister of Health Jens Spahn. Only German nationals will be allowed admission.
Even if they are vaccinated, they must quarantine for 14 days upon the arrival.
“The last thing we need right now is a new variation being released that causes even more issues,” Spahn added, referring to Germany’s fierce fourth wave of the pandemic.
The administration of Rome announced on Friday that anyone who has spent the previous two weeks in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, or Eswatini would be denied admission.
“In the interim, we will follow the road of extreme prudence,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, adding that specialists were researching the new B.1.1.529 variety.
Beginning at 1200 GMT on Friday, all flights from South Africa and its immediate neighbours will be banned.
The decision of the United Kingdom was harshly criticized by South Africa.
“While South Africa respects all countries’ right to take necessary precautionary measures to protect their citizens,” the foreign ministry says in a report, “the UK’s decision to temporarily ban South Africans from entering the UK appears to have been rushed, as even the World Health Organization has yet to advise on the next steps.”
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