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SA permanent residents abroad are being told they can’t come home, ‘chaos’ as OR Tambo tests for Covid-19

Source: Business Insider SA, 20/03/2020

Some South African residents in various countries were unable to
board flights home as of Friday, while chaos reportedly broke out at
OR Tambo when travel bans were ` finally ` implemented.
Under regulations intended to curb the spread of the novel
coronavirus behind Covid-19, travellers from high-risk countries are
banned from entering South Africa, while those from medium-risk
countries must subject themselves to enhanced health screening.
But South Africa citizens, and permanent residents, are still allowed
to enter the country, no matter where they travel from or their state
of health on arrival. In theory.
In reality, several South African permanent residents said, airlines
refused to allow them to board planes on the basis that they would
not be allowed entry into South Africa.
One airline told South African residents to apply for visas for re-
entry into SA, although there is neither a need nor a process to do
so.
It was not immediately clear how many residents were affected as they
tried to make their way back home, but several airlines appeared to
have taken the same approach.
`Permanent residents are allowed to return and will be subjected to
the same regime as South Africans such as screening and/or testing
and/or quarantining,` confirmed home affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza.
Meanwhile chaos reportedly broke out at OR Tambo as entry measures
were implemented ` on Friday morning.
Travellers from high-risk countries should have been banned from
entering SA as of Thursday, but insiders said those measures had only
been implemented during the course of Friday morning.
As not all airlines had started denying travellers with previously
valid visas boarding yet, some visitors were apparently turned around
at OR Tambo.
Some South African residents said they were subjected to detailed
questioning about their medical condition, while some foreign
visitors said they were not aware of having been thermally scanned to
check for fevers.
The airport referred questions to the department of health, which did
not respond.
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