The South African Post Office (Sapo) says Christmas mail leaving the country in December will be delayed due to the international travel bans implemented when the Omicron variant was identified.
Travel restrictions were imposed on South Africa after the detection of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus – a variant with more than 30 mutations.
Mail may be delayed, Post Office says
In a statement on Wednesday, Sapo said cargo space on aeroplanes is limited due to the cancellation of some international flights.
The Post Office estimates mail leaving South Africa may be delayed by up to 14 days.
“Only surface mail is currently available to the United States of America. The post office expects that the airmail option will again become available in January”.
Christmas mail deadline
Mail sent to countries in Africa – specifically Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique – won’t be affected.
“Items posted from South Africa by 5 December 2021 to these countries should reach their destination before Christmas,” Sapo’s statement said.
The Post Office advised customers who are sending items to foreign countries to do so as soon as possible.
How to package international items
Take care when packing your item, and do so as securely as possible, because international items are transported in bulk.
It’s also important to include a mobile number of the recipient along with the address, in case the parcel ends up in the wrong place.
Also take note of mail specifications – you cannot send oversized envelopes or items weighing more than 1kg via standard mail.
Finally, to prevent delays, don’t send prohibited items, such as pesticides, liquids, plants, vermin, or insects. The full list can be viewed here.
Incoming international items are inspected by the Department of Health and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) before it’s sent to SA Post Office for distribution.
Omicron travel bans lifted
Meanwhile, some countries lifted the travel bans imposed on Southern African countries. Flights from South Africa will once again be allowed to land in France from Saturday.
However, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said authorities will implement “drastic” restrictions, and will only allow French and EU residents to disembark.
Everyone else must undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival.
If the traveller is not infected, they will quarantine for seven days, and a 10-day quarantine will be required for travellers who test positive.
Additional reporting by Cheryl Kahla.