Flights from South Africa will once again be allowed to land in France from Saturday, as the country lifts its Omicron travel ban, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal confirmed.
However, French authorities will implement “drastic” restrictions, and will only allow French and EU residents to disembark, along with diplomats and flight crews.
Omicron travel bans
France to allow flights from southern Africa
Attal said the health situation in Franc is “rapidly deteriorating” after the country recorded a sudden spike in Covid-19 infections on Tuesday.
Over a period of 24 hours, France recorded 47,177 new Covid-19 cases, representing an average of 32,116 cases per day, over the past seven days.
Therefore, travellers will have to undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival. If the traveller is not infected, they will be required to quarantine for seven days.
Travellers who test positive for Covid-19 will be required to quarantine for 10 days, Attal confirmed after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
Japan closes borders
Meanwhile, Japan has asked airlines to stop taking incoming flight bookings for the next month due to Omicron concerns, after a second traveller tested positive this week.
Japan confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant on 30 November, when a man in his 30s arrived from Namibia at the Narita International Airport in Tokyo over the weekend.
The second case was confirmed when a man in his 20s arrived at the same airport after recently staying in Peru.
Japan closed its borders to new arrivals of foreigners on Tuesday, and according to the Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the man is currently in quarantine at a medical facility.
WHO cautions against travel bans
Omicron was first identified by South African scientists on 24 November, with the first known confirmed infection from a specimen collected on 9 November.
While travel bans could dissuade countries from sharing data about the evolving virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said unvaccinated people should avoid international travel.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s public health authorities on Wednesday said Omicron had been identified in samples from passengers travelling from South Africa.