Immediate ban on flights from South Africa

The government has decided to impose an immediate ban on flights from South Africa. The ban took effect this evening, 21 December 2020, at 21.00 Dutch time, and will remain in force until 1 January at the latest. Flights carrying cargo and medical staff will still be permitted.

The Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, imposed the ban to prevent the spread of a new infectious variant of coronavirus that is circulating in South Africa. The decision follows the imposition last weekend of a ban on flights from the United Kingdom and a ban on ferries carrying passengers from the United Kingdom. The measures are aimed at restricting travel from regions where variants of coronavirus are circulating.

The government’s decision means that two flights from South Africa that were scheduled to arrive in the Netherlands on Tuesday morning, each carrying around 120 passengers, are not going ahead. Contacts are taking place with the airlines concerned. Dutch nationals who are unable to return from South Africa are advised to find a safe place to stay.

As soon as possible, the government wants to make it obligatory for all passengers, including EU residents, to hold a negative test certificate in order to be allowed on board. At present, this requirement only applies to people from non-Schengen countries. Once the requirement has been introduced for all passengers, the ban on flights from South Africa can be lifted. The ban will be withdrawn before 1 January 2021 if effective European measures are put in place to prevent the introduction of the virus.