TORONTO – Canadians currently stranded in South Africa are left with no choice as they navigate confusing travel rules to get home.
Richard Maisel arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on 24 November, just as the world first learned of version B.1.1.259 – later renamed “Omicron” – and is now in the country for another two weeks with the airline. and governments restrict travel from southern Africa.
“It has been incredibly frustrating and stressful,” he told Granthshala news channel on Monday.
Maisel said he is running short on options because most airlines will not accept Canadian passengers, while the federal government requires an in-transit PCR test for entry into Canada, which regulates many connecting airports. .
“Most European airlines are only taking back EU citizens, not allowing Canadians to board the flights,” he said. “American airlines – Delta and United – are only allowed to return US citizens.”
Maisel said he has only been able to find a flight to Germany that accepts Canadians and provides in-transit PCR testing, but the next flight is not for a week or two.
“Luckily for me… I have my parents to stay with me,” he said. “Most of the Canadians in the chat group are staying in hotels or Airbnbs and have no place to go.”
Jonathan and Rene Goldman are in a similar situation. They had gone to Cape Town for a family member’s 90th birthday and are now stuck in South Africa with few flight options to return home.
“Since we don’t have a direct (flight) to Canada, someone really wants to help us,” René told Granthshala News.
Twenty members of Team Canada’s under-21 field hockey team There is no clear way back to Canada after the team toured the country ahead of the Junior World Cup.
“We’re just playing a waiting game,” said one of the team’s players, Danielle Hussar. “We have a great team of people working on it, as well as the government.”
Canada was set to play against Uruguay, England and Belgium in the first two weeks of December, but the tournament has been cancelled.
“Everyone is safe and well – the team will stay in [sic] In situ, while the flight home has been arranged,” Field Hockey Canada spokesman Kevin Underhill said in a statement to Granthshala News Vancouver Island.
“(Sports Canada and Global Affairs) understand that this is a junior national team that is the only South Africa to represent Canada at the world level,” Underhill said. “Field Hockey Canada feels fortunate to have the highest level of government working on this on our behalf.”
The Canadian government on Friday banned travelers from the southern African countries of South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini. Anyone who has traveled from those counties in the past 14 days is asked to quarantine until they can produce a negative test result.
Health officials have confirmed three cases of the Omicron variant in Canada: two in Ottawa and one in Quebec. There are also four more suspected Omicron cases in Ontario.
- READ MORE: First cases of Omicron COVID-19 type detected in Canada: what we know
It is still unclear how permeable and dangerous this new version could be. Researchers have said that more information is needed to make those conclusions.
With files from Granthshala.ca Writers Nicole Bogart and Hannah Jackson, Granthshala News Montreal Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin and Granthshala News Vancouver Island