SAA is engaging with a number of countries to repatriate foreign tourists stranded in South Africa since the country went into lockdown, confirms Louise Brugman, spokesperson for SAA’s rescue practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana.

She says this includes the repatriation on behalf of the German government of thousands of German tourists from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Frankfurt and Munich.

Regulations prohibiting international passenger flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (published on March 26 in terms Section 27 (2) of the Disaster Management Act) have to be changed first before the flights can take place, she adds.

German Ambassador in Pretoria, Dr Martin Schäfer, in a letter to German citizens published on the embassy website on Sunday, announced that the German Foreign Office had managed to find a solution with South African authorities and SAA for the repatriation flights. He hoped the first flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Germany would start toward the end of the week.

He asked German citizens waiting to be repatriated to immediately confirm their data on www.rueckholprogramm.de.  Only passengers without COVID-19 symptoms would be repatriated. All passengers would be screened and possibly tested at the airport before departure, he said.