EU states agree to lift travel ban on Southern African countries

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European Union (EU) member states have agreed to lift the travel ban on Southern African countries following an Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) meeting on January 10, 2021. 

In a tweet posted by the presidency of the Council of the European Union, member states agreed “to lift the emergency break to allow air travel to resume with southern African countries”.  

Following an earlier IPCR meeting on November 26, 2021, EU states activated an “emergency break” imposing temporary emergency restrictions on all travel into the EU from Southern African countries. This action was reported as a response to the surge in Omicron variant cases, which have now been detected around the world. 

News that the travel ban has been lifted will come as a relief to African states, which experienced reduced travel under the restrictions. The list of African states implicated in the restrictions consists of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

However, with the detection of Omicron all over the world, some EU states moved to consider easing restrictions prior to the decision to the lifting of the ban.  

Germany announced its intent to downgrade restrictions on other countries, including African states, from its “virus variant” list to “high-risk” according to an announcement from the Robert Koch Institute. These changes were put into effect on January 4, 2022. 

In place of the ban, EU member states will now move to implement pre-departure PCR tests as an entry requirement into the EU. 

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