Travel agency Flight Centre has cancelled all its Black Friday deals to focus on helping customers after South Africa was re-added to the United Kingdom’s Red Travel List.
The UK has announced a temporary ban on all direct commercial and private flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe from Friday mid-day.
This followed confirmation from South Africa’s health department that a new Covid-19 variant with a high number of mutations had been detected in the country.
Scientists are concerned that the variant could be more transmissible and avoid antibodies, meaning it might be more resistant to vaccines and immunity from previous infections.
Flight Centre Travel Group MD Andrew Stark said the company has decided to prioritise customers who have to amend their travel plans.
“We are aware many of our customers were looking forward to Black Friday shopping but believe the responsible thing to do given the current uncertainties is to sadly cancel our Black Friday sale so that our experts can focus all their energy on assisting our customers at this time,” Stark said.
“We are in constant contact with our suppliers and will communicate on our channels as news unfolds.”
Stark said news of the ban was simply devastating and warned of further restrictions against South Africa from other countries.
“We envisage there will be a domino effect with other countries following suit as we have seen before,” he stated.
News24 reported that Germany, Netherlands, Israel, Japan, and Singapore were placing stricter measures on travellers from South Africa.
Stark stressed that it was important for the country to achieve an 80%+ vaccination rate to “proactively put an end to these situations unfolding”.