International travellers returning to Australia to be sent to quarantine facilities for two weeks

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has praised the response of Australians to the coronavirus pandemic as “simply magnificent”.

· Thousands of Australians returning to the country will be quarantined in hotels and other accommodation facilities for two weeks before being allowed to go home, under new measures to control the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the decision on Friday afternoon, saying the arrangement would ensure returned travellers complied with the self-quarantine requirements and limit the risk of them passing on COVID-19 to family members.

“If their home is in South Australia or in Perth or in Tasmania and they have arrived in Melbourne, they will be quarantining in Melbourne. If it’s in Sydney, it will be if Sydney. If it’s Brisbane, and so on,” Mr Morrison said.

The measure will effect all international travellers returning after midnight on Saturday.

Mr Morrison said the cost of the quarantining travellers in hotels and other facilities will be borne by the states and territories, with NSW expected to be the most affected.

“The greatest stress and strain will be in New South Wales because they have the highest number of [overseas] arrivals of any states and territories.”

Despite flights being slashed and travel bans in place in many countries, thousands of people continue to arrive in Australia.

On Thursday, more than 7,000 people landed at Australian airports from overseas.

The military will also be called in to help state and territory authorities enforce the self-isolation rules.

Nearly 300 people are being held at Sydney hotel Swissotel after returning on a Qantas chartered flight from Honolulu in Hawaii.

The strict quarantine measures took some of the travellers, who had already been quarantined on board a cruise ship in the US, by surprise with some complaining about “prison-like” conditions.

Mr Morrison said it was not necessary to step up lockdown measures at this stage, praising Australians who have heeded the message to stay home.

This Australian teacher in Wuhan has a message about COVID-19 for those back home

“Thank you for the way over the course of this week you have been responding to the very significant changes that we’ve been asking you to make to your lives and to your livelihoods,” Mr Morrison said.

However, Mr Morrison flagged further measures to assist Australian businesses as he warned more would be forced to shut down.

“Part of that plan that we will be announcing will be to seek to hibernate Australian businesses. This will be a very innovative approach in the circumstances we find ourselves in. We will have more to say about this.”

“…We want to ensure that as far as practicable that we continue to pursue this both from the health point of view and ensuring we minimise the impact on people, particularly economically.”

Rich, older South African men are buying Plan B passports in Europe in record numbers

Business Insider SA – 05 April 2020 The first half of 2018 saw a huge surge in applications from South Africans looking to buy their way into second passports, mostly in Europe, numbers from an advisory company show.

Mostly older men are securing passports from the likes of Malta and Cyprus – with cash.
But they’re not always looking to actually leave South Africa, says Henley & Partners.

In the first half of 2018 – after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa to replace Jacob Zuma as ANC president – it recorded a 229% year-on-year increase in applications from South Africans looking to buy their way into foreign citizenship or residency, Henley & Partners says. Henley & Partners is a global citizenship advisory firm, headquartered in London with more than 30 offices worldwide.

Some of those applications were from people who started looking into alternatives during 2017, pre Ramaphosa. But there was also a 143% year-on-year increase in enquiries about citizenship-by-investment in between January and August, Henley & Partners says.

But the majority of those people were not moving new money out of the country, nor leaving South Africa – not yet.

“Most of our clients were not looking to emigrate immediately, they are looking for an alternative, for an option, for if and when,” says Amanda Smit, head of Henley & Partners in east, central, and southern Africa.

Those clients are acquiring passports or residency rights mostly in Malta, Cyprus, Moldova, and Portugal. Unlike traditional immediate-emigration favourites such as Australia and the United States.

About 10% of those looking for a second passport are retired, and about half the rest are self-employed, Henley & Partners numbers for 2018 to date show. 80% are older than 45, and 85% are men. But only around 55% of the applicants are white, says Smit, after a distinct increase in black, coloured, and Indian applicants recently.

The only thing they really have in common is money, it seems.

“We have two types of clients,” says Smit. “The one is business people who travel a lot and who find visa restrictions extremely limiting and frustrating; they do it simply to obtain travel documents that give them greater mobility, that let them travel at short notice.

“The other type, the big majority, want a plan B because they are concerned about the economy or the political situation, worried what the education system will look like 10 years from now or if their children will be able to find work in South Africa.”

Most clients already have funds offshore, Smit says, and are simply looking to exploit that money to also land a passport, rather than moving lots of cash out of SA.

How to get British citizenship via double descent

British citizenship via the double descent route was a much talked about topic the past few months. However, there is still a lot of confusion about who can qualify.

Qualifying for British citizenship via double descent

Based on the Romein supreme court ruling, certain persons will be eligible to be registered as a British citizen, via the so-called ‘double descent’ route.

The previous 1948 Nationality Act stated that fathers who are British by descent could pass on their British citizenship to their children born outside the UK.

This would thus be persons born outside the UK but who obtained their citizenship through their parent being born inside the UK. This was subject to them registering the births within 12 months of the child being born. This rule meant that the 2nd generation born outside the UK could become British citizens.

However, the law did not provide the same for the British by descent mothers. The Romein court ruling has confirmed that this is discriminatory towards the female line. The law now provides for mothers who are British by descent to pass on their British nationality to their children born outside the United Kingdom.

Possible complications

Based on our independent research, as well as feedback on recent applications under this route, the qualifying criteria are for those who were born during (and in) what was characterised as a “Foreign Country”.

This includes South Africa during the period 31 May 1961 and 31 December 1982, the United States of America and most European countries. As such, birth in other countries would mean that you would likely not qualify. It is also important that if you were born outside these periods, you will also likely not qualify.

As this can be a complicated application, we highly recommend that you speak to one of our consultants for advice in your specific circumstances.

German government begins repatriation of citizens from SA

The German government on Friday started the repatriation of its citizens from South Africa.

Strict travel regulations had been in place since a 21-day nationwide Covid-19 lockdown was announced.

Previously, all flights were grounded, but the repatriation was permitted due to the revised regulations announced this week by the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.

The German Embassy said on Thursday that about 5 000 German tourists were stuck in the country and they would be repatriated from Johannesburg and Cape Town by the South African Airways.

After several attempts to leave South Africa to return home to Berlin, German tourists Wolfgang Luckau and Inge Klaus, along with several other stranded German citizens, were instructed to gather at the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point on Friday. They were then bused to the Cape Town International airport, to fly back home.

Sitting on a curb in the parking lot in front of the stadium, Luckau, his partner Klaus and hundreds of other tourists filled out flight documents. They appeared tired and frustrated. This was their second attempt to fly back home since the national lockdown was implemented.

They were denied access to a designated flight on 26 March and had made several attempts to leave even sooner than that.

“We grabbed a taxi and chased back to Betty’s Bay. Fortunately, our accommodation was still available because the owners were very understanding, so at least we had a roof over our heads,” Luckau said.

Several tourists stood in the parking lot and the large grass area outside the stadium filling out forms, while those who had already completed the necessary paperwork formed a line at the stadium entrance, waiting to board one of several buses.

Luckau said there was a perception in South Africa that tourists were responsible for the spread of the coronavirus.

“Many South Africans kind of discriminate against European tourists at the moment because they believe that we brought the virus into the country, but that is absolutely not true,” he said.

South Africa recorded its first case of the virus on 5 March when a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife tested positive for Covid-19. They were part of a group of 10 people who went on a skiing trip to Italy.

“We, as tourists, we don’t bring the virus, we bring the money,” Luckau added.

He also expressed his gratitude to several local residents whose assistance made their departure possible.

Their flight departed at roughly 22:00 on Friday evening.

India Declares ‘Total’ Lockdown In Bid To Prioritize Coronavirus Fight

In a bid to stem the tide of the coronavirus, India has declared the world’s largest stay-at-home order yet in the fight against the global pandemic.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a 21-day lockdown during an address to the country Tuesday, instructing its more than 1.3 billion residents to stay right where they are, beginning at midnight Tuesday night.

“To save India and every Indian,” Modi said, according to an Associated Press translation, “there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes.

The prime minister outlined details of India’s response in a series of tweets published around the same time. He said the central government plans to put nearly $2 billion toward ramping up its health care infrastructure — including producing hospital beds, ventilators and other medical equipment. Medical workers will also be exempt from the stay-at-home order.

He also urged residents to “avoid any kind of rumor or superstition.”

The nationwide order comes after officials implemented similar measures in dozens of population hubs across the country, which boasts the world’s second-largest population. Cities that normally teem with crowds — such as the country’s capital, New Delhi — have gone eerily silent in recent days, as authorities tested curfew measures and domestic travel measures took effect.

Now, Modi and the central government are rolling out even more drastic rules — including the complete closure of commercial and private establishments, with few exceptions for services deemed essential.

So far, the country has dodged the worst of the global pandemic. It has reported hundreds of confirmed cases of the virus so far — far less than other countries, such as China, Italy and the U.S., which number their cases in the tens of thousands.

But these relatively low totals have not eased the concerns of global health officials, who said Monday that the progress of the pandemic in the coming weeks will be determined to a large degree by India’s preparations.

“The future of this pandemic, to a greater extent, will be determined by what happens in very large, highly populated, densely populated countries,” said Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s head of emergencies.

“So it’s really, really important that India continues to take aggressive action at the public health level and at the level of society to contain, control, suppress this disease — and to save lives.”

40 Hours and almost R80k later – the rip-off of flight prices to get home before lockdown

Before the lockdown in the country was even announced, South African married couple Jana and Martin were making arrangements to cut their three-month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia short.

On 18 March they had moved and changed their return flight booked with Etihad from Phuket to Jakarta and for 26 March, flying via Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg. Outside of the high-risk countries, there was no ban on these routes to South Africa. This cost around R8 000 per person.

With all the expected delays with health screenings, they figured they would wait to purchase their domestic flight home to Cape Town once they arrived at OR Tambo International. –

On 21 March, they decided to move up their flight from Bali to Jakarta with Air Asia two days earlier, as their original flight got cancelled. These tickets at least were still at normal prices, around R800 per person. As Jakarta has seen a high rise in coronavirus numbers, they planned to keep themselves isolated in an airport hotel room until their international trip. Luckily, Air Asia didn’t charge them for the change and notified them in advance with easy assistance from an artificial intelligence bot.

The next day, Emirates started the back-and-forth of cancelling of flights – but Jana and Martin were flying with Etihad so they felt confident it would still be fine – but with one free date change they tried to find out if they could move it even earlier. Waiting in Bali, they enjoyed some beach time – almost empty with no tourists in sight – and tried to enjoy the last few hours of their holiday.

The same day, the United Arab Emirates government announced that it was halting all passengers flights in and out of its borders – including transit flights – from 25 March. This included flights through Abu Dhabi.

Upon hearing the news, their supportive travel agent changed their flight to 24 March. At the same time back home, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would go into a 21-day lockdown from Thursday, 26 March at 00:00.

On the day of their journey back home, before they even got on their flight from Bali to Jakarta, Etihad cancelled their flight after they had already checked-in. Forking out even more money – a total of almost R53 000 – they quickly bought the last economy seats on a Qatar Airways flight for the same day, this time via Doha to Johannesburg.

If they wanted a flight to Cape Town, they would have had to fork out R123 000 a ticket – only Business Class seats were left.

At the Jakarta airport, it was pretty empty – except for the long line of tourists from around the world trying desperately to get back home. It looked like Qatar was one of the only ones still flying – and they were coining it.

They tried to find out what’s happening at Etihad – the airline wasn’t going to reimburse them. All they got was a measly flight credit that had to be used before September of this year.

Many passengers had similar issues with them.

Some travellers didn’t have the money to pay for these flights to get home.

“We were fortunate and privileged enough to be able to afford these really high prices – were very aware at the airports that many were unable to do so, and were stranded either in transit or the destination they were trying to fly from,” says Jana.

“It really angered us to see how these large airline companies didn’t practice any sense of corporate social responsibility in these times of need, vulnerability and panic – people just really needed to get back home.”

She adds that she, like many other passengers, hopes airlines reconsider their policies during such times and enact faster procedures for refunds during crises.

Doha’s airport was busy – with UAE’s flight bans, this was one of the few routes available to travellers to get home. They tried to see if they could change their ticket to Cape Town, but it would have been another R16 000 per person.

Domestic price gouging

During their wait at the airport, they started checking domestic flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Many local airlines by then had announced that they were also shutting down for the lockdown period.

With many flights already sold out, they had to buy what they could get. They managed a booking for Mango – over R6 700 for two one-way tickets, which in regular times would have been between R1 000 and R1 600 for both of them.

“After all the stress and added costs of arriving in Joburg, we were quite disappointed in South Africa’s domestic airlines’ ability to deal with the crisis as well, specifically Mango. On their website, the only flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town was the Economy Plus option, at a much higher cost, saying that all other economy tickets were sold out.”

“We were seated in the first row as part of our ‘plus’ benefits – lounge access, priority boarding, and a R70 meal voucher – but when we arrived at the gate they told us the flight was so empty they had to rebalance the plane and put us all the way in the back and there was no food or drink service or priority boarding.

“It was evident to us that Mango boosted their tickets last-minute to create the impression that there were limited spaces while there were only 20 people on the airplane.”

With a fast health screening process at OR Tambo International, they made it back to Cape Town, and started their self-quarantine process at home as the rest of the country headed into lockdown – about 40 hours and almost R80 000 later.

Lockdown, day 1: SA’s air traffic comes to a near-standstill as borders, airlines close

Flights in SA came to a near standstill on Friday, on day one of the three-week national lockdown.
Data from Flight Radar showed major routes, such as Johannesburg to Cape Town, were devoid of any planes.
SA banned non-essential international and domestic air travel as part of lockdown measures, and scheduled commercial passenger flights have been cancelled.

Flights across South Africa came to a near standstill on Friday as the country embarked on an unprecedented 21-day lockdown.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula prohibited all non-essential international and domestic travel starting on Friday as part of the government’s lockdown measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, or SARS-Cov-2.

During the lockdown, set to end on April 16, most South Africans will be forced to stay at home, aside from those in essential services such as safety and security, and food distribution.

All major South African airlines such as Comair, SAA, and FlySafair cancelled their domestic passenger flights in the lead-up to the lockdown.

On Friday morning FlightRadar24 visualisations showed that almost no flights were taking off in South Africa, even between the usually busy Johannesburg to Cape Town and Johannesburg to Durban routes.

For the entire Africa, only a handful of aircraft could be seen as most countries curtailed air travel due to the novel coronavirus.

Even Europe and the United States, which are awash with aircraft flying, also saw a drastic decline in air travel.

It is estimated that roughly 20% of the world’s 7.8 billion people are currently in some form of lockdown in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

The epidemic is expected to cost airlines billions, with troubled local state-owned airlines such as SAA and SA Express already reporting a deterioration in the financial situations due to the virus.