Business community irritated by travel bans
The local business community is unhappy with the Omicron variant reactionary measures that have resulted in travel disruptions, saying they place undue stress on the economies of countries in Southern Africa.
The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) questioned why there has been such a harsh and unjustified response by political leaders in developed countries in Europe.
“Responses that have been copied ad nausea over the past days by a growing number of other developed countries around the world,” NCCI President, Bisey Uirab said.
Many developing countries, including various African countries, have imposed travel bans on Southern African countries after a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron was detected in South Africa.
Uirab called on African leaders to consider this as a warning that there must be closer collaboration going forward.
“By doing so, rather than following the unjustified action by developed countries such as border closure, African countries will accelerate the creation of an enabling environment for increased trade and investment flows and become less reliant on developed countries for tourism and business,” Uirab said.
O&L Group Executive Chairman, Sven Thieme said the travel bans are utterly disrespectful, deceitful, and discriminatory of the region’s intellectual capacity as well as undermining the skill and excellence of a world-class science community.
“Instead of being recognized and commended, South Africa (and its neighbours including Namibia), are punished for being transparent,” Sven said. “Can you imagine the repercussions of border closures and travel bans every time a new variant is identified/detected? We need to remain open and stay focused by trusting science and attaining the facts before we act impulsively.”
Thieme stressed that the best weapon of defence against the virus is to be fully vaccinated and follow the basic rules of wearing a mask; regularly washing and sanitizing hands; avoiding large gatherings and trusting the scientific approach.
Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum this week suggested that travel bans only be imposed based on verified and reliable information that has been preferably endorsed by the World Health Organization.
“Travel bans are never favourable to the economy, whether it is the economy of the imposing country or the one of the affected country. Travel bans are also devastating to airline companies who are struggling to stay afloat and to rebuild after almost 2 years of travel slowdown,” the Forum stated.