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Neil Johnson.
  • Covid-19 has once again put the world on hold, as Omicron emerged last week as a "variant of concern".
  • South Africa put the world on alert to this - to its detriment.
  • And many holidays were put on hold, as subsequent travel bans hit hard.
  • Business Insider spoke to Neil Johnson, whose Cape Town holiday was cut short by travel restrictions.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South Africa put the world on alert a week ago. Omicron, a new novel coronavirus variant, was identified by local scientists.

The international backlash was immediate and brutal.

Travel bans were implemented at will to southern African countries, including South Africa which was just starting to emerge from various travel red lists.

All South African scientists did, really, was identify a "variant of concern".

But it wreaked havoc. Devastating travel plans for many, for whom the world bubble was just about opening.

Business Insider South Africa spoke to Neil Johnson, whose SA holiday unravelled - very fast. And at great financial cost. Here is what he had to say.

I flew via Addis and Geneva, back to London – it was hell. And expensive too - more than £3,000, with hotel quarantine fees paid up front, to essentially secure a boarding pass.

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Neil Johnson.

The airports were chaos… getting to the quarantine hotel, even more so. The queue to even get to a lockdown hotel space was 200 people long. It took 2 hours conservatively.

covid
Neil Johnson.
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Neil Johnson.

Upon arrival at the hotel, I had to order three meals a day... for the next ten days.  

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Neil Johnson.
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Neil Johnson.

Similar to long stretches of SA's lockdown – no booze… but I got lucky...

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Estrelita Moses

... I had NikNaks – and SA wine - stored in my bag.

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Neil Johnson.

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Estrelita Moses.


Walks are allowed... albeit around a very tiny parking lot.

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Neil Johnson.

To put it in perspective, my room is 5 paces wide and 6 paces long.

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Neil Johnson.

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Neil Johnson.

Security checks remain steady, including an escort of sorts for daily walks.

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Neil Johnson.

Neil Johnson grew up in Cape Town. He has been living in London for more than 20 years but is undeniably South African in heart and soul. He visits home as often as he can. Johnson flew into Cape Town on 13 November to scatter his late great aunt’s ashes. Sadly, he was unable to do so, as the UK’s strict travel ban kicked in and the mad scramble to get back to London became his nightmare reality.

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