Mauritius travel South Africa
(Getty Images)
  • Mauritius reopened to travellers from South Africa, and eight other previously restricted countries, on Friday.
  • The popular island destination had initially announced that the Omicron-induced ban would last until 31 January.
  • The latest reprieve comes after similar moves by the Seychelles and Maldives.
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Mauritius is the latest island nation to lift its South African travel ban, three weeks ahead of schedule.

Bans imposed on South African travellers immediately following the detection of the Omicron coronavirus variant in late November are easing. The popular holiday destination of Mauritius is the latest country to remove its restrictions, which were only due to be dropped at the end of January.

Mauritius' decisions to reopen travel with South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia comes just one day after fellow island nation, the Seychelles, did the same.

The Mauritius ban on travellers from these southern African countries was initially imposed on 27 November and added to the long list of countries with controversial Omicron-induced restrictions.

“The high infection rates in over 50 countries means a person is as likely to catch the Omicron variant in Port Louis, Berlin, Brussels or Paris or as they are in Johannesburg or Cape Town. Travel bans have become redundant in the face of this reality,” said Otto de Vries, CEO of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA), in reaction to Mauritius’ ban.

“ASATA is profoundly frustrated and disappointed by the Mauritian Government’s decision to further extend a travel ban when it is evident there is no scientific basis to continue the ban.”

And although Mauritius’ initial decision to extend the travel ban to 31 January was met with disdain, the island nation suddenly changed its plans in an announcement on Thursday.

Commercial passenger flights from South Africa, and its neighbouring countries, to Mauritius were given approval to resume on Friday.

“We are very pleased that South Africans can once again travel to Mauritius,” said Arvind Bundhun, director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA).

“Covid-19 has placed significant pressure on all nations to do the right thing and we thank South Africans and the South African travel industry for their patience in this regard.”

Mauritius, which spent much of the pandemic secluded, reopened to international travellers in a phased approach, starting in September. The first phase restricted travellers to designated resorts. South Africans were controversially excluded from this reopening and were only allowed to visit the island nation during the second phase which began in October.

Fully vaccinated South African visitors were allowed to arrive and explore the island, without restrictions on their movements, until the Omicron-scare suspended travel.

With the travel ban now lifted, Mauritius joins the ranks of the Seychelles, Maldives, and Zanzibar as the latest idyllic island getaway open to South African visitors.

Fully vaccinated travellers to Mauritius still need to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure and arrange Covid-19 health insurance cover. Additionally, visitors will be required to undergo another, free, Covid-19 test upon arrival in Mauritius and a self-administered antigen test on day 5 of their holiday.

FlySafair and South African Airways (SAA) operate flights directly to Mauritius but have not yet confirmed when these services will resume.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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